Community Gardens: A blooming success

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
May 13th, 2010

The Rossland REAL Food group’s dream of a an inter-generational community garden is just about to launch, with planting set to commence soon. Aided in part by a recently-received grant of $20,000 to help expand the project’s educational programs and facilities, it’s up up and away for a blooming good project. The former Foodies have been somewhat surprised by the immense support they’ve received from both local government and the community at large. Months before any plants or seeds were ready for planting, every plot was spoken for and the project now has a growing waiting list. The group expected Rosslanders to be interested in the garden but selling out their space in year one was beyond their initial expectations.

“It’s kind of unprecedented that it would be so popular,” said REAL’s Rachel Roussin. “When we first thought about doing the community garden, people thought that there wouldn’t be a huge interest because there are lots of yards in Rossland; but as it turns out tons of people are interested.’ We have lots of people with condos up at Red who were keen, and also people who have yards that are full of rocks and clay or people who just don’t know how to get started. So the response has been great.”

Year one of the project will see 14 regular-sized beds, two mobility beds built waist high for easier access, and one “really huge” bed for one of Rossland’s schools, daycares, or any other community group that might be interested.

Folks on the waiting list will still have an opportunity to plant at the garden, with the area around the garden’s periphery available for possible some herb spirals or climbing plants such as beans or peas to grow on the soon to be installed fence.

While it’s expected that the first plants will be going into the ground around the May long weekend, everyone around town seems to have their own idea about when it’s safe to plant. Some say when the snow is off the peak of Roberts it’s go time; others say that it’s when the snowline across the valley from town reaches the top of Lake Mountain. Still others, perhaps new to gardening, will be helped along with the knowledge and experience of the REAL Food group.

If you didn’t get one of the first community plots, you can, of course, always start your own garden at home. In fact, the REAL Food Group is there to help you on that endeavor as well.

This spring, the former Foodies ran the first Rossland installment of the Lawns to Veggies contest. This weekend, the two winners, Jorge Riva and Doreen Brownlie, will have their lawns transformed from grass to productive vegetable gardens. Even those who were not chosen for this year’s contest will still receive assistance in the form of consultation and knowledge sharing.

“We’ll sit down with them and talk about what to plant and when and what grows well in Rossland. That way, even the people that did not win will still get some benefit out of it,” added Roussin.

Between the higher-than-expected demand for community garden plots and the number of applicants to the Lawns to Veggies contest, the group has been empowered by the support and hope to harvest the inner farmer in all of us.

“It really shows us that there is this strong desire in the community for people to learn how to grow their own food, and that there is a need for assistance there. It seems like there is a real gap that REAL Food is filling,” concluded Roussin. “We’re really stoked because we’re making a slow and steady but real difference in town.”


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