Sprouting community spirit

 

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo Marilyn Barnes, left, helps Natalia Tambour-Lau-a and her grandmother Cynthia Lau-a plant nasturtiums, an edible flower that can be used in salads.

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo
Marilyn Barnes, left, helps Natalia Tambour-Lau-a and her grandmother Cynthia Lau-a plant nasturtiums, an edible flower that can be used in salads.

The fruits of gardening labour are not always edible, at least that’s what Marilyn Barnes, president of the Hay River Beautification Committee, is trying to promote.

We want to help people get interested in gardening and beautification,” she told The Hub at a May 25 workshop, held in conjunction with the Town of Hay River and Northland Utilities, which provided a pancake breakfast.

While the event was focused mainly on home gardeners, as opposed to the market variety, Barnes said there was strong representation from both groups.

Close to 70 people attended the morning’s events and groups ranging from Ecology North to the Hay River Community Gardens had tables set up, encouraging residents to get involved in making things grow.

I’ve been gardening all my life,” said Barnes. “My father would do the flowers and my mother the vegetables, and I joined in wherever I could.”

Rebecca Bruser, chair of the Community Gardens, was drawing in the crowds with a sunflower-growing contest for children.

Lots of people are scared they can’t do it,” she said of gardening. “They think maybe growing things takes more effort than they want to put in or special skills. But when they get a bit of support when we garden together, it gets a lot easier.”

Grace Engen came out to the workshop for just that reason.

I’m trying to get my three-year-old daughter into eating veggies,” she said. “I came to learn more about gardening and get a bit of confidence.”

The annual workshop has become a fixture of spring in Hay River and Barnes said it attracts more people every year. She credits the increase to a growth in community gardening participation and the collaboration of organizations. She said she was especially grateful to Northland Utilities for supplying pancakes as they are always a popular staple of the workshop.

Mayor Andrew Cassidy was on hand to lend his support, and was pleased to see so many people out on a day that was packed full of events all over the community.

This kind of group is awesome,” Cassidy said. “There’s lots of stuff going on in town today, so it’s really nice to see people coming out for this.”

— Sarah Ladik