Summer student Madhav Bhatt regularly waters plants at Common Ground Garden Project in Capstone. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Summer student Madhav Bhatt regularly waters plants at Common Ground Garden Project in Capstone. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Red Deer vegetable garden grows food for those in need

A collaboration between ReThink Red Deer and the City of Red Deer

People in need are now enjoying fresh from the garden vegetables grown near the city’s downtown.

Common Ground Garden Project, located on four acres in Capstone, is a collaboration between ReThink Red Deer and the City of Red Deer, to supply produce to local agencies, like the Mustard Seed and Red Deer Food Bank.

Project lead Art van Zanten said the site is temporary, but hopefully it can stay put for a few years.

“We are on city land. All that land is up for sale for development. We basically started there and we’ll see where it leads, see if we can work towards a permanent (location),” said van Zanten with ReThink Red Deer.

Common Ground is following in the footsteps of Grow Calgary, that had a garden in Calgary before it moved to a bigger location near that city.

Van Zantan said he proposed the project for Red Deer after seeing a YouTube video on a garden project grown in Houston, Texas. Work to develop the local garden began in April 2020, and about 30 people have participated in Zoom meetings to make it a reality.

He said food insecurity and border closures drove the discussion of what could be done in Red Deer to educate as well as help families at risk.

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Located at 45th Street, beside a park near Red Deer River, planting at the garden started at the end of June, and volunteers have already harvested cucumbers, beans, peas and tomatoes.

“It’s basically got any kind of vegetable you can imagine in there right now. It’s all produce.

“If we don’t get an early Alberta surprise by the end of August, we’ll be able to have another harvest.”

The first phase of the garden is 10,000 square feet. Local gardening businesses donated plants, and volunteers work in the garden on Friday and Saturday mornings.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact organizers at rethinkreddeer.ca.

“We’ve got big plans. There’s going to be a lot of labour involved.”

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The garden is fenced which protects against wildlife. A plan is also being developed to make the garden accessible to those with disabilities.

“We want everybody to be able to be in that space, feel welcomed, and feel like they are part of a community, like they belong.”



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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