Taking Root: Rossland’s Community Garden celebrates the fruits of its labour--just in time for Labour Day!

Allyson Kenning
By Allyson Kenning
September 8th, 2010

Rossland’s community garden, located at the north end of Jubilee Park, will celebrate its grand opening on Thursday, September 9 from 5:00 – 8:00 PM.  This event is a culmination of a lot of hard work by local volunteers and enthusiastic gardeners who all share a love of gardening and a desire to reap the fruits (and veggies) of locally grown organic goods.  

 City Hall has had a big hand the project: it has leased the land free to the Rossland Real Foodies (RRF) for three years as a pilot project. According to project co-ordinator Ami Howarth, “the City has been extremely supportive with this initiative. They seem to be quite happy with the progress at the site and we are confident that the land agreement will be extended in the future.” The Columbia Basin Trust also awarded a grant of $5000 to the project, and the Union of BC Municipalities provided grant money to help with the development of the garden. Participation in the garden in this inaugural season has been excellent, according to Ami.  There was a waiting list for plots, and in addition to the gardening itself, the space has been used during the summer for gentle exercises for everyone to enjoy, a meeting area for garden tours of some of Rossland’s very successful gardens, and there has been a garden mentor on the site as well to assist gardeners with any questions and concerns they might have had with their beds and with gardening in general. I can say that I personally did avail myself upon on garden mentor, Rachael Roussin, who had a lot of great things to say when I was so dismayed at the lack of growth in my own bed. Soil has been an issue.  “The soil that we used to fill the beds at the garden is low in some nutrients that are necessary for plant growth,” stated Ami.  “We have provided organic fertilizers for people to use to increase the fertility of the soil in their beds.  We will be buying compost and manure in the fall and having a work party to amend the soil in all of the beds by mixing in the compost and planting green manure crops.” Also holding back growth this year was the cold rainy weather we had in the spring and the late planting time (I couldn’t plant until June 2).  For those who have been frustrated by the lack of growth, Ami noted that patience and time are of the essence. “Organic gardening doesn’t always come easy, it takes time and a lot of work…. Everyone needs to be patient and realize that things will get better every year as we work together to build the soil and add to the garden.” Even with the popularity of the garden, there are no plans to expand it next year, because the RRF doesn’t want the space to become unmanageable. According to Ami, “there are lots of planned additions to the garden for next season, including flower beds, more permaculture ideas, and a couple of fruit trees that will be planted.” The programming for the garden won’t end with the growing season, either.  There will be pickling and canning workshops throughout September, and in October there are plans for a composting workshop.  Winter will see some gardening-related activities, too. Information about these events can be found at the RRF website and through Rossland Recreation. The future looks bright for this community initiative.  One of the very positive things that has come out of this project so far, according to Ami, is the amount of networking that has grown out of the community.  “Seeing different people and families trading watering times and taking care of each others gardens is so great to see.  All of the amazing knowledge that has been shared by mentors and garden tour hosts, the inter-generational teaching that is happening – it’s all very exciting. It’s so wonderful to see everyone working together to build a strong network of local food production knowledge.”

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