A growing movement – Hay River Community Gardens ready to expand

Hay River Community Gardens chairperson Rebecca Bruser at the site of the gardens, near the South Mackenzie Correctional Centre.

The soil at all 40 plots in the Hay River Community Gardens will be tilled by new or experienced gardeners this year, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more.

Seeing an interest among Hay Riverites who want to grow their own food, the Hay River Community Gardens committee will help expand the gardens. They’ll do that by building extra plots and allowing those interested in learning to garden to move into the potato patch.

Committee chair Rebecca Bruser credits the heightened interest to a proactive community, a dedicated garden committee, and the popularity of the farmers’ market at Fisherman’s Wharf.

She said it’s getting people excited about sustainability and the local food movement.

Jackie Karp, the committee’s secretary, initially joined the garden for the community involvement.

“You get to meet lots of different people you might not normally meet, and the soil is better than it is in my own yard,” she said. “I like watching things grow. It tastes better when you grow it yourself.”

Plus, she noted it’s completely organic.

The committee has planned several community events and workshops for the season.

Representatives will be at Garden Morning at the Community Hall on May 26 to enrol kids in a sunflower-growing contest. They will also hold a raspberry planting work bee and workshops on composting, greenhouse building, and canning and food preparation.

They are also holding several workshops and events to engage the younger generation as much as possible. The PHAB (Physical Health, Art and Beauty) group for teen girls will be working a plot at the gardens throughout the summer and the Summer Heat youth program will also participate in learning activities.

This year, there are more community groups involved than ever, including the Soup Kitchen, the town’s department of recreation, and the Committee for Persons with Disabilities.

Along with fundraising, the Community Gardens committee is looking for corporate sponsorship to help support the local food movement.

“It can be the beginning in a process to a healthier lifestyle,” said Bruser. “Research has shown that gardening can be therapeutic.”

On June 2, the committee will hold a ‘how to grow’ workshop and work bee to teach those who are new to gardening how to yield the most from their seeds and soil.