In more ways than one, gardens are cool! Over the past decade, more and more Edmontonians have embraced all things local and fresh. So fresh in fact that Edmonton’s Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy is actually called fresh! The city has always been home to people who love to garden, and some will boast about the grapes they grow along a sun-drenched wall of their house. Yes, that’s correct, grapes in Edmonton! Others might tell you about the pear and apple trees they tend to. And others take great pride in the tomatoes and cucumbers they grow. Whatever you fancy, these fruits and vegetables are working triple duty: they not only keep us nourished, but they also contribute to a sense of pride and create cooler spaces in your yard and shade for our homes. Have you ever sought shelter in the mid-day summer sun, only to find there are no trees, just buildings? How cool did you feel in the shade of a building compared to under a tree? Plants have a unique ability to make our surroundings feel cooler. Around the world, cities like Edmonton struggle to combat the “heat island effect” that is common to cities lacking plants and trees. And while Edmonton boasts a terrific River Valley, it is not enough to cool down the heat reflected by so many buildings and paved areas. As our summers heat up with a changing climate, we might help each other out by planting fruits and vegetables to help keep our yards a little cooler. And besides the cooling effect they have, it’s also a cool thing to do.