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Red Deer gardens stand tall despite unpredictable weather

Common Ground Garden in Capstone keeps growing
Some harvesting is already underway at Common Ground Garden in Capstone to help feed those in need. (Photo by Susan Zielinski/Advocate staff)

Vegetable gardens in Red Deer have so far survived what mother nature has thrown at them this season.

In the spring, residents snapped up all of the roughly 350 garden plots available through the city’s Garden Plot Program.

Ken Lehman, the city’s ecological services operations co-ordinator, said gardeners likely appreciated that the city provided water at each of the four sites to supplement watering efforts.

“We had a very, very dry May, and into June. As soon as the rain started it really helped the garden growth. Everything looks quite lush and coming along,” Lehman said.

The Neighbourhood Community Gardens program, mostly run by neighbourhood associations, also had some of their watering tanks filled by the city.

Lehman said it would also be interesting to find out how many people have joined with others to garden together on private property.

“For any groups that want to start up a garden, or if some neighbours are eager to get a growing project going in their community, it’s worth reaching out the city. We don’t have any funding available right now, but certainly would I love to chat with groups to encourage them and point them in the right direction,” Lehman said.

One garden project that is going strong is the Common Ground Garden in Capstone.

The project, located at the former Electric, Light and Power site in the southwest corner of Capstone, is a partnership between the City of Red Deer and ReThink Red Deer that aims to address food security in the city while creating a safe and vibrant public space that offers accessibility, inclusion, sustainability, and fellowship.

“We’ve had one or two hail storms so far which did a little bit of damage, but we’re still doing alright,” said ReThink Red Deer’s project manager Rene Michalak.

He said an irrigation system that was installed this season on two/thirds of the site has been a big help to ensure plants receive the water they need. This year more children who are taking part in summer programs, as well as students, have been helping out at the site so the project is reaching more people in the community.

A medicine wheel garden is also new to Common Ground Garden, and a compost pilot project is under development to divert commercial organics, for which there is no curbside pickup, and turn it into quality compost for the garden in 20 days.

“Most people believe that can’t happen. But if you turn it every other day, and have a large enough pile, a cubic metre or bigger, you can actually get finished compost in under 20 days,” Michalak said.

The compost pilot is funded by an Environmental Initiatives Grant from the City of Red Deer.

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Susan Zielinski

About the Author: Susan Zielinski

Susan has been with the Red Deer Advocate since 2001. Her reporting has focused on education, social and health issues.
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