Megan Noble of Red Deer sends a handful of weeds flying as she tends to her community garden plot at the Michener Gardens in 2017. (File photo)

‘Younger people want to grow their own food:’ Three of four garden plots full in Red Deer

Three out of four city-provided garden plots in Red Deer are full.

The demand is high, said Ken Lehman, ecological services operations co-ordinator with the City of Red Deer.

He said all four of the plots at Michener Gardens, Piper Creek Gardens, Twin Spruce Gardens and Parkside Gardens usually fill up every year. But sometimes, Parkside Gardens has plots available, because it has a larger planting area, he explained.

The city prepares and manages garden plots that the public can register and use for personal gardening. They have a choice of large, medium or small plots.

People are interested in eating local – especially organic produce – and growing it themselves, said Lehman.

“The younger generation shows more interest in food sustainability and local produce, healthy living. It’s a growing movement.

“It’s really cool to see the demographic in these spaces. We do get some older individuals, but lots of young families there, who are trying to learn that art, that in some ways was lost there for a bit.”

People talk and share gardening tips and ideas with each other amid the plots.

“Growing food is one thing, but it’s neat to meet people and learn how to grow and live sustainability as well.”

One plot benefits at least one family, if not more, he said.

“We see lots of people gardening out there, but there are many more who benefit,” he said, adding people plant tomatoes, spinach, potatoes, swiss chard, squash, cucumbers and so on.

Those who may not be into growing can still benefit from locally grown fruit such as apples, pears and apricots at the city’s Community Food Forests and Orchards at eight locations, including Lancaster Green Gardens, Parkside Community Food Forest and Waskasoo Community Gardens.

Lehman said the trees in these food forests are just getting established. People are asked to harvest respectfully and be sure to leave some fruit for others.

The windstorm of 2017 damaged some of the trees, but “they’re bouncing back” and “there will definitely be some fruit there this year.”

Red Deerians also prepare to plant with their neighbours this time of the year as part of the Neighbourhood Community Gardens program. These gardens promote walkability and community spirit.

Lehman said community groups, associations or churches often opt to garden together in these smaller plots.

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