It started with the vision of two local food producers and ended with a successful project that grew and distributed an abundance of garden produce in the Outlook area.
Connie Achtymichuk, Provincial Specialist, Vegetable Crops; and Garth Weiterman, Professional Agrologist, Water & Soils Specialist, and farmer; spearheaded a committee to look at establishing a community garden for the first time in Outlook.
The initial thought was to offer a place for people without access to garden plots to continue their love of gardening, or to provide help and mentorship to those who had little or no gardening experience. Following further discussion however, the direction moved to working collectively and donating the produce to the local food bank.
An offer of a site by Barrie Spigott gave the garden a location at 311 Selkirk Street, and effort began on working up and fertilizing the plot in advance of a call for volunteers to come and assist with planting. Ten people showed up and got corn and carrots planted, and the following week rows of donated tomatoes were added.
In July the area was fenced and as the growing season progressed volunteers watered and weeded what was shaping up to be a bountiful garden.
There was a great deal of excitement when people gathered to begin harvesting carrots the third week of August. The first evening more than 60 pounds of carrots were dug, rinsed and packaged for distribution through the food bank. In subsequent weeks, volunteers also picked tomatoes, corn and peppers.
With still more tomatoes and carrots in the ground, totals to date include 145 pounds of carrots, 72 dozen ears of corn, 260 pounds of tomatoes and about 150 peppers. Weiterman remarked, “Amazing for about 4,200 square feet!”
Over the coming months discussions will take place regarding the future of the community project including availability of current location, type of garden, sources of revenue to meet basic costs, and ways to bring out more volunteers.
At the start of the initiative Achtymichuk said, “This is not only about growing our own food. This is more about building community.” Those involved with the community garden this year would certainly say: goal set—goal met.