What goes into a meal that feeds 80 people with leftovers to spare? Parkdale-Cromdale’s community garden volunteers from last year’s pilot project can tell you: construction skills, a big pile of dirt, lots of seeds, and a little tender loving care.
Last summer, Parkdale-Cromdale’s Grower’s Dozen Community Garden tested their chops with four 3-by-7 foot raised-bed boxes that yielded enough food for a harvest meal for over 80 people, all grown from donated seeds and plants.
While the project’s immediate goal is to grow food, the real growth is in the community itself. Kevin Wong, chair of Grower’s Dozen, said one of their goals is “to be beneficial to the communities and see how we can connect people together.”
With the pilot’s success, the group has plans for a bigger garden this year through grants from Sustainable Food Edmonton and the community league. The group is building 15 more 4-by-4-foot raised beds, available for community rental at $10 a piece. May 19 is the cut-off to apply for a raised bed.
They also plan to build five more community boxes, four filled with vegetables and one “devoted to bee-friendly plants,” said Wong, “to add to our original four from last year.” The garden beds will sit in the dormant community skating rink in summer, then be forklifted to storage over winter.
Not satisfied with veggies alone, organizers have plans for additional growth. Options being considered include: a community patio, a honeybee hotel, and a flow hive (a hive that doesn’t disturb bees to get the honey).
Other community gardens are exploring similar avenues for growth. Eastwood’s community garden partners with the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers to encourage community engagement with long-standing residents and new residents, said Lenn Wheatley, vice president of the group. They have six beds from last year and another two or three planned for this year.
Gérard Forget, garden coordinator with Alberta Avenue Community Garden, said interest in the garden started quickly. “That first year, I think we had all the plots rented. We have expanded every year since to keep up with new additions.” The garden is nearly full, and Forget doubts there will be any empty spaces this season.
Sustainable Food Edmonton provides workshops, along with technical and financial support to those looking to start or expand a community garden.
Junetta Jamerson, community garden facilitator with Sustainable Food Edmonton, said Edmonton has nearly 100 community gardens, with wait lists and rush registration becoming the norm. “And that’s just the ones we know about that are on public or community league land,” she said. “There’s still a lot of communities that don’t have a garden, and support in expanding existing gardens is something that maybe needs to receive more support now.”
Feature Image: Community gardens produce food but also connect people. | Steven Townsend
Parkdale-Cromdale (11335 85 St)
$10 rental & volunteer hours
Eastwood (11803 86 St)
No cost, volunteer hours asked
Anyone welcome to join!
Alberta Avenue (9210 118 Ave)
$20 plot rental fee and volunteer hours
Priority given to Alberta Ave residents
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IMG 3 caption: Edmonton has nearly 100 community gardens. | Steven Townsend