Like most busy Mums, Trish Schneider was buying all of her vegetables at the local supermarket. Looking at the cost of lettuce and carrots one day motivated her to think about planting her own garden in their family home in SE Calgary. Five years later, she is now mentoring others to get started in their own backyards. “It’s so cheap and easy to get started and the results get better every year,” Trish commented from her plot at the community garden. Trish sees no end to the rise in the number of communities offering plots to local residents, and she uses her community plot to grow different vegetables than in her backyard. “It’s been nothing but positive since we started four years ago,” she commented, “each year we have more residents interested in growing.” The City is seeing an increase every year of community centres creating garden plots on their land. The challenge is making sure the plots are used and cared for properly. Water is often the biggest challenge; in Calgary’s dry climate you can be sure that the vegetables will need a lot of watering. Perhaps our gardeners are the only ones happy with the amount of rain we’ve been having.
“We had a community garden at the downtown seniors centre that I volunteered at last summer, and the seniors loved to show everyone the vegetables and flowers they were growing,” responded Ali Benjamin, a downtown resident. Benjamin has noticed a greening up of the downtown areas over the past few years as more and more condo owners are looking for spaces to grow their own food. “It’s not just about the cost. It’s about reconnecting with where our food comes from, and being proud of growing your own. We want to pass this on to the next generation.” Benjamin does not yet have children of her own but hopes that by volunteering at community gardens she can influence parents by showing them how easy it really is to grow their own vegetables, even in small spaces.
In the SE neighbourhood where Schneider resides, the local Boys & Girls Club has started a vegetable garden for the first time this spring. The parents and kids helped plant the seeds in late May and are hoping to harvest in early September. Club volunteer Amelia Shoy saw planter boxes sitting empty and thought it would be a great idea to get families involved. “Many of our families don’t have access to an outdoor growing space at their home so we brought them together.” Five families helped with the planting and many others are contributing by weeding and watering. Shoy is thrilled with the ‘experiment’ so far, adding, “we had kids digging in dirt that have never done that before. Now they get to come each week and watch their seeds come alive.” Even if the yield is insignificant, Shoy says the experience of caring for a garden is rewarding in itself, “just seeing the kids’ faces as they planted the seeds was enough for me to want to do it again next year.” Makes me want to find a patch of dirt and a few kids and start planting myself.
*All names are fictional*
In response to today’s Daily Post