Community Gardens

by on January 18, 2014

The Bobcaygeon Local

May 13, 2012
By Lisa Dever

I began gardening on a bit of a whim. One bright summer afternoon when my parents were away, I decided to dig up the patchy grass on our front lawn and turn the entire place into a flower garden. The neighbours looked on in horror. This was back in the 80’s, before gardening was as popular as it is now.

Two months later my neighbour said to me “It really looks fantastic; who’d have thought?” The next year, the small strip of shrubs at the edge of his property became a 20’ by 6’ flower bed.

Within three years the landscape of the street had changed completely and the backyards began to fill with vegetable gardens. It was a whole new world for some of us. There were as many styles and methods of gardening as there were people. Some read books, some experimented and some just did whatever the guy next door did. We shared seeds, plants, tips and the bounty of our labour.

Gardening nourishes both the soul and the body. Time spent in the flower bed will rejuvenate the spirit; time spent in the vegetable patch will sustain the flesh.

Our first spring in Bobcaygeon, as we dug a large plot in the backyard, once again, the neighbours looked on with curiosity. We planted more vegetables than one could have imagined. We built a scarecrow, tended the garden faithfully and enjoyed a bountiful harvest of everything from peas to corn. The fresh herbs were fragrant, the potatoes sublime.

The next year the neighbour on our right dug a plot, the year after, the neighbour on the left made a raised bed. Gardening is contagious.

Absolutely nothing is better tasting or more satisfying than a home-grown fruit or vegetable. Audrey MacKay and Monica Berdin, who are heading the community garden committee for Environmental Action Incorporated, agree. By managing raised beds at Trinity United Church and Kawartha Settlers’ Village, the two are offering local residents the opportunity to grow their own food.

While some community gardens are communal in nature, the Environmental Action plots are not. “What you grow is yours to keep or do with as you please,” said MacKay.

“We have a total of nine organic, raised beds, approximately 4’ by 10’ each. We are looking for people or groups of people, who will make a commitment for this year.”

“We will be using finished compost as a planting medium. We will provide the beds, soil, compost and water. The gardeners will provide the seeds and use their own tools.”

As the plots are organic, gardeners are not permitted to use insecticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers or non-organic materials.

Not an expert? Not to worry. “Garden teaching will be made available.”

“A garden agreement (waiver) and guidelines will have to be signed to ensure commitment. We would like to get together with all our gardeners in May so that they can meet us and each other to share ideas, seeds, etc. We hope to provide a friendly atmosphere and a happy gardening experience.”

Anyone interested in farming a community garden plot can contact Monica Berdin at 705-738-6218.

Not alone in the venture, MacKay and Berdin are well assisted by volunteers like Hugh Mooreshead, who sells the garden compost at the Bobcaygeon Farmer’s Market and John Bick, who has done the heavy lifting in getting the garden frames in place and filling them with good growing soil. The City of Kawartha Lakes has delivered free, clean compost to both sites.

“Here is an opportunity you should not miss in getting down to the earth in producing your own food,” said MacKay.