The inconvenience and delays to our gardening plans pales in comparison to the very real disaster that the huge volumes of rain are creating for flooded communities and for our beleaguered farmers. Our thoughts are with them and all who are able to volunteer and lend a helping hand.
The amount of rain that has fallen is truly staggering. At time of writing (Saturday afternoon) rainfall in our area was already over 100mm – this compares to an average rainfall for the whole month of May for the previous five years of 62.5mm. The problem of course is compounded by the snow melt and rainfall in April of this year that amounted to 148mm compared to an average over the last five years of 61mm.
Is there a silver lining? At this time last year the concerns were all about how dry it was with total rainfall for April and May only amounting to about 70mm. Certainly water courses are being recharged and trees that were stressed by a very dry summer last year are receiving more than adequate amounts – local gardeners that planted Hub Hospice trees a week ago have had no concerns about keeping them watered!
Not surprisingly, this deluge has created havoc with community gardening plans. In Almonte the Cleanup of the Augusta Park Community Garden had to be moved from May 6 to May 13. In Carleton Place the rejuvenation of the Carleton Place Community Garden next to St. Gregory School has been postponed to May 20 and 21 since it is lying under several inches of water at time of writing.
New Garden Initiative – Carambeck Community Garden
Not only does the rain keep coming, but so do the grants for community gardening. The Hunger Stop was delighted to learn that we are the recipient of a 2017 Scotts Miracle-Gro GRO1000 Grassroots Grants! This grant has been awarded to create a community garden in the space behind the Carambeck Community Centre which is directly in front of the Youth Centre and the TR Leger School. Given the delays at the St. Gregory site we have decided to move up the timing for the Carambeck garden. We have now scheduled our big construction day for Saturday May 13 (with a rain date of Sunday May 14). We will be starting at 9am and continuing until we are done – the mayor has agreed to come and say a few words at noon. We are also trying to arrange a service club to provide a BBQ. Come for an hour or two or for all day. Bring your wheelbarrows, shovels and rakes! If construction finishes early some volunteers are hoping to move down the road to St. Gregory and demolish the existing rotting boxes.
The Town of Carleton Place has provided an opportunity for The Hunger Stop to expand our gardening program into a recreational/educational complex owned by the town and located in a central location. This is a community gathering spot with a large swimming pool, a daycare, a dog park, a youth centre and an alternative high school. The site provides an ample sunny area; ample parking and access to town water. This project will enable a much longer gardening season and hence a much greater contribution to food security. The other innovative aspect is the location of the project at a busy community hub which creates intergenerational learning and mentoring opportunities. The proximity of the youth centre and the school places them in the centre of the proposed garden. The gardening program will help meet key objectives of the youth centre and the school as well as serve food bank clients and the general public.
At the heart of the program will be a hoop house (an unheated greenhouse) that will enable gardeners to extend the gardening season to close to ten months versus the five or six months in an outdoor garden in the Ottawa Valley. There will also be additional outdoor growing boxes for vegetables and pollinator plants. A space for shrubs and small fruit trees will also be created. Gardening programs will be developed in conjunction with the youth group and the school that are keen to see these programs developed. It is planned to get youth involved in the day-to-day activities required. In the second year of a program it is planned to add additional beds and create a social enterprise with the youth growing produce and selling it at a stall at the local farmers’ market.
We see this initiative as a very important one as it is a real partnership between the town, the food bank, the youth centre, TR Leger Alternative School, community volunteers and business sponsors. We believe that this project will have real results in addressing food security issues in our region, educating the population on related issues, and raising awareness of how individuals, businesses and communities can make a real difference in both the lives of those around us and in our own.
Let’s Make Augusta Park Community Garden Great Again!
Also happening on Saturday May 13 – this is the day for a work party to get the Neighbourhood Tomato gardens in Almonte ready for the growing season – both the Augusta Park Community Garden as well as the vegetable plots behind the Almonte Library. No need to register – just show up in your gardening attire anytime after nine in the morning! This Saturday, May13, 9:00am to 2:00pm, there will be a garden work day at Augusta St. Community Gardens. Please bring your garden gloves, sunscreen, your favourite shovel or gardening tool.
We will be removing quack grass from the berm and personal gardens. There will be mushroom compost available for those gardeners who would like to amend their soil.
We will also be moving the soil to the relocated raised beds at Augusta.
Carleton Place Community Garden (next to St. Gregory School) – Rescheduled once again
The garden project at the community garden in Carleton Place had to be postponed a couple of weeks due to our very wet spring and is being postponed once again. Here’s an opportunity for Mississippi Mills gardeners to extend a helping hand (and shovel) to our neighbours in Carleton Place. A major project to rejuvenate the community garden next to St. Gregory School on Townline Road in Carleton Place is being spearheaded by the Lanark County Food Bank (aka the Hunger Stop) in partnership with existing gardeners at the site. It is being funded by a grant from Sysco Food and is supported by several local businesses. Circle the dates Saturday May 20 and Sunday May 21. Construction will be in full swing starting at 9 in the morning and going until dark (or until we drop). Come for an hour or two or for all day. Bring your wheelbarrows, shovels and rakes!