Gardening as community building

This is the third year that I’ve been involved in the local community garden. This year it seems that we have about 10-15 gardeners who have varying levels of commitment/interest in growing food communally.

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Digging weeds is therapeutic and a good way to keep active

I’ve always wanted to garden as an adult, but I rarely ever had any space as I was either an apartment dweller or renting a house where I didn’t want to invest too much into digging up and spending money changing a yard to support my gardening visions.

For the past four years, I have lived in an area of Winnipeg where we generally have quite small yards/lots. I’m no exception and with an active son, my ability to use much of the yard for growing things is impacted–he needs the space to run and kick a ball around, build fires, and do hands-on experiments.

The lack of space to grow is probably one of the main reasons why I’m interested in being a part of a community garden. I also love the idea of working together, learning from gardening experts (the garden “stewards”), and growing new things that I wouldn’t try at home. Our garden also has a social justice connection, as we donate about one-third of our produce to local soup kitchens, assisted living residences, etc.

Our community garden is unique because we ALL work the various plots. Some gardens use a model where each individual or family signs up for ONE small plot of gardening space. Our model will have it’s pros and cons for sure. The main concern for most people who know about what I do is, “How do you know that everyone is putting the same effort/amount of work into growing the food?”

Gardeners learn to compost, mulch, and we use this cube of water to tend to our plants

Gardeners learn to compost, mulch, and use this cube of water to tend to our plants

The truth is, there is no way to track how many hours a person puts into gardening. You basically just have to try to find a group of equally passionate gardeners who have a stake in seeing their produce grow well, and who are okay with splitting the bounty equally.

The biggest PRO, for me, of our style of communal gardening is definitely getting to try a wide range of vegetables and fruits. Our garden has produced things that I would have never tried if I didn’t find them at the garden: horseradish, collard greens, mustard greens, and patty pan squash!

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How it looks after beds have been weeded

I’ll be posting more updates and information about the community garden efforts as the summer comes and goes. The last thing I’d like to say about the garden is that it’s one of my very favourite places to be in my spare time!

The herb spiral

The herb spiral is one of the highlights

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