Jackie Bantle stands in front of rows of plants growing in a greenhouse at the University of Saskatchewan.
Jackie Bantle has been a part of the agriculture and horticulture community at the University of Saskatchewan for more than 30 years. (Photo: Submitted)

USask’s Ag Greenhouse is Bantle’s home away from home

While winter has many of us hibernating, USask greenhouses are full of life.

Jackie Bantle enjoys being in a tropical environment even during Saskatchewan’s coldest days.

As the greenhouse and horticulture facility manager, Bantle has been a part of the agriculture and horticulture community at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) for more than 30 years. Originally a music teacher, Bantle quickly returned to post-secondary and discovered her love of horticulture, first working for Dr. Doug Waterer (PhD) as a research technician for 15 years before moving to the Ag Greenhouse and the Horticulture Field Research Facility.

From haskaps to drought-resistant wheat, Bantle has played a part in a number of Canadian research innovations led by USask.

“I ran into an old school mate of mine who complimented me and the university for the contributions we’re making to the agriculture industry in the province,” said Bantle, adding that while proud of the accomplishments, it is difficult at times to see the far-reaching impact while amidst the daily plant care routine.

“Sometimes all I see are the weeds in front of me, but it’s really true, we’re really making a difference in so many people’s lives. The small stuff we do every day affects the industry, the province, the country, and even the world.”

The Ag Greenhouse, located at 45 Innovation Boulevard on USask’s main campus and monitored by Bantle and her team seven days a week, has 15,000 square feet of growing space that’s home to everything from expected crop varieties to the unexpected, like bananas and papayas.

Originally built in 1992, an addition was made in the early 2000s to provide more space.

“Now we’re out of space again,” Bantle noted. “There is so much research going on.”

In the past the greenhouse would take on external clients and grow plants for them, but as a U15 university, all space is now dedicated to USask’s own research endeavours.

“It’s a great place to work and I’m proud to be a part of it,” said Bantle. “It doesn’t hurt that I get to come to work every day where it’s warm and bright and alive with so many plants.”

When she is not on campus monitoring and nurturing thousands of plants, Bantle enjoys managing her own vegetable garden and adds new saplings to her yard. Her best advice for anyone wanting to get their hands dirty and surround themselves with plants this winter? “Don’t over water.”

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