Community gardens are in full swing this summer. Veggies are planted, flowers are starting to bud, and bees are busy pollinating. 

Both Alberta Avenue Community League and Eastwood Community League’s community gardens will be expanding this year to fit the needs of the community. 

Western Economic Development Canada awarded Alberta Avenue Community League a $45,000 grant to upgrade their community garden, and the league is using the grant to build a gazebo, add flower beds and hardscaping, and expand the community garden. The City of Edmonton contributed an additional $36,000.

The league is also preparing for a 12 by 20 foot greenhouse/potting shed by Exceed Solar who have found sponsors for the project. The Exceed Solar team has collaborated with architectural, engineering, construction and technology experts to create modern and sustainably designed structures branded as Sol Spaces.

The league jumped on both opportunities to improve the garden, says Ali Hammington, league president. 

“We’re really hoping that it’s going to make the garden a more attractive space for rentals. It would be a lovely space to do weddings and other similar events,” says Hammington. “And we’re hoping that the community will be able to get more use out of [the garden] as a result of having [these structures].”

Both the gazebo and greenhouse will have power for lights and heaters. The 12 by 18 foot gazebo will be constructed of wood and the greenhouse is made from manufactured structural insulated panels and metal siding.

Construction on the gazebo and greenhouse will begin this year, and while the hope was that the structures would be finished by the end of the summer it’s quite likely construction will run into next spring.

The league started the year with a deficit and having the garden enhancement will be another way to draw in revenue. 

Hammington adds: “In my humble opinion, this is the best community garden in the city. And once these improvements have been made, it’ll be hands down the best community garden in the city, and I’m really looking forward to showing it off.”

Eastwood is also expanding their community garden this year, although it’s not due to any funding. They are adding several additional ground plots on the east side of the rink before the end of the summer. These will be available for community members to reserve. And eventually, the garden may encircle the rink entirely, says Kate Wilson, the league’s facility coordinator. 

“Every year there’s more happening,” says Wilson. “We just plug away and improve [the garden].”

Eastwood’s garden is full again this year, and veggies, annuals, and native Alberta wildflowers have been planted. The raised beds outside of the rink have wildflowers and veggies available for community harvesting and a bench for taking in the greenery. Wilson calls it Eastwood’s micropark. “It’s a place for people to come and gather food and just enjoy the space.” 

“We can provide benefits to the community by giving them access to nutritious, organic fresh food, free of charge, to come and harvest on their own time,” adds Wilson. Surplus vegetables are brought to Bethel Gospel Chapel. 

“Coming to the garden is almost like a refresher and a refuel,” says Wilson. “It’s a respite. It’s very nice to be out here.”

Stop by Alberta Ave and Eastwood’s community gardens to take in the natural beauty, relax, and recharge.