Community gardens seeing increased demand

People must follow the new guidelines to ensure public health safety

This summer, people are keen to grow their own food and community gardens are seeing increased interest. But with COVID-19, gardeners must follow guidelines established by the City of Edmonton.

“I think folks are certainly looking for ways to avoid grocery stores and obtain optimum nutrients,” explains Kiley Fithen, Grower’s Dozen Garden Club chair at Parkdale-Cromdale Community League. “With the emergent pandemic we know that folks have lost their jobs, and food security has become a real issue. For this reason, we really do see the function of the garden imperative to our community.”  

Kiley Fithen, Grower’s Dozen Garden Club chair, says food security is crucial. | Stephen Strand

Grower’s Dozen Garden Club has 20 raised boxes for the community, with each gardener having access to two boxes. An additional three boxes are for the communal garden. Up until now, the communal garden provided the vegetables for the league’s Fall Harvest Dinner, but that isn’t possible this year. Instead, vegetables will be donated to Edmonton’s Food Bank. All the boxes are already taken for this year. 

Eastwood’s garden has 14 raised beds. | Stephen Strand

The Garden Club already had a sink for handwashing, but they made changes to accommodate the guidelines.

“Our garden club members will receive a detailed message and orientation about the policies and how we have modified our layout, method of access, and water supply to ensure a safe environment.” 

Elmwood Park Community League’s community garden has 24 plots, with the possibility of welcoming a few more gardeners. 

Eastwood’s garden has expanded with gardening space now around the rink. | Stephen Strand

“I will be planting a row for the food bank; as for other gardeners, that is a personal choice for them to make for themselves,” explains AudreyLynn Fluet, garden coordinator. 

Alberta Avenue’s community garden has 44 rentable plots with 30 gardeners. They also have a perennial bed for native plants, a pollinator garden, herbs, fruit bushes, a pear tree, and an apple tree.

With all the plots secured for this summer, people are being put on a waitlist. 

But that doesn’t mean people aren’t continuing to garden elsewhere, whether that’s in their backyard, on their balcony, indoors, or in a vertical or wall garden.

Eastwood’s garden isn’t especially large, but they’re slowly expanding. | Stephen Strand

“The fact that our compost sale sold out in under two hours, that shows the interest in how people are planning to garden at home,” explains Karen Mykietka, facility manager. 

Alberta Ave is prepared. “We already had a garden sink. We have soap and hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. We put out paper towels. We have a little station there.” 

AudreyLynn Fluet, Elmwood Park Community League’s garden coordinator, will be planting a row of vegetables for the food bank. | Stephen Strand

Though they don’t have a dedicated space for the Food Bank, they do pass along vegetables to community members. 

Eastwood Community League is participating in the City’s Community Gardens Pop-Up Pilot project. In addition to the league’s nine raised beds, the City will loan 12 more beds. Currently, four raised beds are available, plus the 12 beds from the City.

Community garden guidelines are there to protect people’s health during the pandemic. | Stephen Strand

“We are shifting our focus in the garden to food security for Eastwood residents,” explains  Donna Yateman, league president. “We are not full! Our main focus is on bringing in new gardeners from Eastwood and surrounding communities,” says Yateman. 

Plots are free but require a $25 deposit. The deadline to reserve a plot is June 8. For more information, contact: info@eastwoodhub.orgFor more information, visit your league website or the City website: edmonton.ca/communitygardens


OTHER GARDENING IDEAS

Featured Image: Katherine Jones, Eastwood’s community garden coordinator, says some food from the garden will be donated. | Stephen Strand

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