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Irrigation system planned for Red Deer’s Common Ground Garden in Capstone

Workshops are planned throughout the season
Red Deer’s Common Ground Garden in Capstone. (Contributed photo)

A new irrigation system is one of the most eagerly anticipated improvements expected this spring and summer at Red Deer’s Common Ground Garden in Capstone.

ReThink Red Deer’s project manager Rene Michalak said he’s excited to get the drip irrigation system installed as it will significantly reduce the hand-watering that was previously needed.

Southern Irrigation from the Burnt Lake Trail area is donating the drip lines, he added. These will run water from 15 to 20 “totes,” or food-grade plastic containers, each holding about 1,000 litres of water.

Michalak said the totes will, in turn, be fed water out of a larger central tank situated on higher ground.

He’s looking at also installing a solar pump to help move water along to the totes and drip lines.

Since there are no electricity or water services at the Common Ground site, Michalak said volunteers were busy trying to keep up with all the needed watering in summers past.

The garden project in partnership with the City of Red Deer, is described as a “multi-phase, brownfield redevelopment project.” It’s located at the former Electric, Light and Power site in the southwest corner in the Capstone development area.

The fruition of the volunteer labour last fall was more than 1,250 pounds of harvested produce, which was mostly donated to The Mustard Seed — although Michalak said community volunteers are always welcome to whatever veggies they want to take home.

Last fall’s bounty, as it turned out, was heavy on zucchinis. But volunteers, including students from three or four city schools, intend to plant all kinds of market garden seeds at the end of April or beginning of May — including tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, spinach and broccoli.

Michalak believes this is a great way for students to learn about where their food comes from and “how to relate to each other and to nature.”

This summer, Jennica Taylor, of Daisy and Dill urban farming, was hired on contract to help oversee the garden operation, and there are plans to also hire another apprentice with the Young Agrarians organization.

Michalak noted some money is available from the $150,000 received three years ago from the province’s Civil Society Fund. He is also looking for other funding sources.

Throughout the season, project volunteers will hold public workshops to help educate people on everything from community composting, to cooking straight from the garden, to transplanting seedlings, and extending the growing season.

While many Red Deerians believe central Alberta’s gardening season lasts only from the May long weekend to Thanksgiving weekend, Michalak said it can be extended by as much as a month at either end through innovations. These include wrapping clear plastic sheeting around gardening hoops and placing them around seedlings and plants to create a mini greenhouses effect.

The Common Ground Garden project is expected to need several dozen volunteers this spring and summer. For more information about volunteering, as well as about upcoming workshops and other plans, please visit

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Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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