Getting in touch with gardening roots

Edith Schaeffer initially wanted to offer garden rental plots on her property, north of Blackfalds, years ago.

Edith Schaeffer initially wanted to offer garden rental plots on her property, north of Blackfalds, years ago.

But when they weren’t immediately snapped up she asked a few questions and was told many people don’t know how to garden anymore.

She opened Spruce Lane Garden to the public eight years ago as a community garden in hopes that she could teach people what to do.

The organic garden, along Hwy 2A between Blackfalds and Lacombe, is made up of two garden plots that are 30 metres by 140 metres.

Schaeffer now shares the knowledge she gained as a child with others.

“If they’ve never picked up a hoe before it’s OK. I will teach them,” she said.

Schaeffer will tell each person what to do and give them a recipe card with further information. Besides teaching those who don’t yet have a green thumb how to garden, she also offers classes on canning, dehydrating and pickling the garden’s bounty.

Last year, there were 25 applicants, along with their spouses and children, who worked around two and a half hours a week at the garden.

As the harvest season begins, they divvy up what they’ve grown with the group.

In just a few short months radishes and green onions will be ready to harvest, then lettuce and spinach and at the end of July peas and beans.

A cornucopia of vegetables, including carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, potatoes and kohlrabi. This year they’ll try a few new plants, including bok choy and okra.

Each applicant pays $30 registration, plus $5 each week, and is provided with seeds and tools.

The individuals and families who take part take home around 800 pounds of vegetables each year, with the harvest happening from June to October.

“Getting in touch with nature is vital to my life,” Schaeffer said. “When you realize you can go out there and go barefoot in the soil you really become bonded with it.”

She said the garden is therapeutic for many people, with some preferring a job where they can work alone and mull something over and others wanting to have people close by to talk to.

“People get what they need out of the experience,” Schaeffer said.

She has been expecting to see an influx of new people to the garden this year with the recession on, but so far it hasn’t happened.

Applications are available at Blackfalds and Lacombe Neighbourhood Place.

Those wanting more information can phone Schaeffer at 403-343-4618 or by leave a message at 403-885-4666.

She will take applicants until the beginning of May, with the tilling starting May 6.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

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