Com­mu­nity gar­den digs in for an­other year

Car­bon­ear’s com­mu­nity gar­den thriv­ing as new sea­son be­gins

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY ANDREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­

The St. Pa­trick’s Or­ganic Com­mu­nity Gar­den in Car­bon­ear is full of ac­tiv­ity ev­ery year from spring through to the fall har­vest. With a green­house ready for use at the start of the grow­ing sea­son and new gar­den­ers set up with beds, the group ex­pects it will be an­other busy sum­mer for those look­ing to have fun in the gar­den.

Ali­cia Hop­kins didn’t have a gar­den of her own prior to be­ing among the in­au­gu­ral folks to test their green thumbs in Car­bon­ear’s com­mu­nity gar­den back in 2012.

“I re­ally love the idea of learn­ing about food and how that could con­trib­ute to how I can be­come more food se­cure my­self and how I can grow things,” said Hop­kins, now the board trea­surer for St. Pa­trick’s Or­ganic Com­mu­nity Gar­den.

“I do have a daugh­ter, so I wanted to teach her about where food comes from and how things grow and why. It was kind of like an education tool, and it re­ally de­vel­oped into a love of gardening, so I’m now grow­ing some things at home as well.”

Sit­u­ated on land where St. Clare’s High School stood for decades (the rea­son why it’s named af­ter St. Pa­trick’s Parish), the gar­den is en­ter­ing its fifth grow­ing sea­son, with 39 gar­den­ers occupying raised beds that will be filled with lo­cal pro­duce in a few months.

“No­body is go­ing to live through the win­ter on what they grow in these beds, but the so­cial as­pect of it … just get­ting peo­ple out,” said Judy Sy­monds, who co-chairs the board with Nel­lie Mer­ri­gan.

“Some bring chil­dren, some bring grand­chil­dren. It’s just a fam­ily gar­den, and I think the so­cial as­pect is what we’re about more than any­thing.”

In­ter­est in the com­mu­nity gar­den has re­mained steady. There are four new gar­den­ers this year, plus a wait­list with four more names at­tached.

“We en­cour­age you to have some­thing in your bed and keep it clean and tidy over the year. If not, you may not get it next year,” Sy­monds said with a bit of a laugh.

Among the new fea­tures this year is a green­house built to­wards the end of last year’s grow­ing sea­son. Beds will soon be set up, and Sy­monds ex­pects a lot­tery draw will take place to de­ter­mine which gar­den­ers can make use of the limited space in­side the green­house.

There are also some fairly am­bi­tious gar­den­ers work­ing away at their beds. Sy­monds said one gar­dener is go­ing to try and grow quinoa this year in a cou­ple of smaller beds, hav­ing heard it grows well at a com- mu­nity gar­den in St. Mary’s Bay.

There’s also a bed ex­clu­sively de­voted to herbs peo­ple are free to use, and an­other is de­voted to ed­u­cat­ing chil­dren about plants.

“A lot of the peo­ple who do have beds here bring the chil­dren down, and it’s re­ally great as an ed­u­ca­tional tool to teach about how things grow, why things grow — and food se­cu­rity is a huge is­sue here,” said Hop­kins. “If we start with young chil­dren, I think that hope­fully our food se­cu­rity is­sue will start to im­prove as gen­er­a­tions move on.”

There’s also a sense of ca­ma­raderie at the com­mu­nity gar­den. Sy­monds said peo­ple are al­ways more than will­ing to share a few seeds with those who find them­selves short.

“You’ll never leave with­out some­thing to put in your bed,” she said.

An event to tidy up the gar­den and till some soil was sched­uled to take place this past Satur­day, and later this year ev­ery­one in­volved will gather for the an­nual boil-up event. Sy­monds said a nice man with no prior con­nec­tion to the gar­den do­nated the tiller when reg­is­tra­tion took place ear­lier this year.


Lil­lian Gree­ley, Ali­cia Hop­kins and Judy Sy­monds take a look at one of the beds that al­ready has a few sprouts show­ing at St. Pa­trick’s Or­ganic Com­mu­nity Gar­den in Car­bon­ear.

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