Are you yearning to grow some of your own food, but live in a city apartment with a north facing shady balcony? Consider getting involved with an urban garden.
If you are a Haligonian, consider visiting the Common Roots Urban Farm to see what is growing, have a nibble and sign up for a plot to call your own! I visited the Common Roots Urban Farm to find out more about it. Jayme Melrose (JM), the project coordinator, toured me around the site, enthusiastically answered all of my questions and more!
ESE (dietitian): Who owns this land?
JM: The land is owned by Capital Health – the plan is that we will use it as an urban garden until another hospital is built on the site. That will not be for a long time.
Jayme and I chuckle about the irony of a hospital for the sick being built on land that is now nurturing gardening skills, providing physical activity and super healthy produce for people.
Jayme tells me that all of the soil was donated by Kynock on Hammonds Plains road.
ESE: Who does all of the weeding and watering here?
JM: There is one main farmer and many youth groups that are learning to grow food. The people who are renting gardens tend their own plots.
ESE: Are all of the beds rented by individuals and families?
JM: No – The Community Plots is just one of the three main sections of the farm. Individuals, families, businesses and other groups can fill out an application for a 4’x12’ plot. Last year we had 42 plots rented; this year there are 119 rented plots!
The other sections of the farm are: The Edible Landscape and The Market Garden.
Jayme and I walked around the Edible Landscape section as she explained that this is the part of the farm that anyone can drop in and ‘steal’ a nibble here and there. Sounds like a place that Peter Rabbit would like! It is full of flowering and herb perennials that can be eaten, used to brew tea and create medicinals. We stop at a yellow day lily; she picks one and looks at me. I ask her if it can be eaten and she says: “You’d be crazy not to!’ and pops it in her mouth. So I eat three – Yum! She explains the healing properties of many of the plants in this section. Apparently this is the garden that sparks the interest of many of the teenagers in the youth groups. One of the teens, a large, burly young man walks by and says: “mint tea is awesome”. He was going to stay at home due to a stomachache that morning but on Jayme’s advice brewed some mint tea instead and his stomachache was soothed.
In the Market Garden there are long rows of peas, beans, kale, tomatoes, and greens. These are grown as a project on economically viable urban agriculture. Right now the food is donated to the Parker Street Food Bank. In the future they plan to sell shares in the garden and the food will be given to the food bank.
Next to the gardening shed are large rain barrels to collect water.
We then go to look at (and smell) the compost and the compost tea that is bubbling away. Jayme explains that it is like probiotics for the garden soil. Nothing is wasted.
ESE: Can people visit anytime?
JM: Yes! Especially between 3-6 p.m. when the Hosts are here. Feel free to come by and dig in or have a tour with a Host.
What a special place! Make sure to visit and/or get involved in the Common Roots Urban Farm or a community garden near you this summer!!
To rent a plot, volunteer or attend a gardening workshop at Common Roots Urban Farm contact them at:
· Website: http://partnersforcare.ca/urban_farm
· E-mail: email@example.com
· Phone: 441-4288
Experience a Community Garden: The Common Roots Urban Farm
by Edie Shaw-Ewald, RD