Community garden raises fees

NNSL file photo Last May, Pat Burnstad showed off the plots at the Hay River Community Garden tucked away in the industrial section of town.

NNSL file photo
Last May, Pat Burnstad showed off the plots at the Hay River Community Garden tucked away in the industrial section of town.

Hay River Community Garden has decided to raise its fees for the coming season.

“Normally we charge $20 for a plot if you get it before the end of March, and then $25,” said co-president Pat Burnstad. “This year, we’ve raised the price to $25 a plot, and $30 if you get it after March.”

Burnstad explained it is extremely difficult to get anybody to work in the garden.

“So what we decided to do was spend the extra money that we hopefully will get and pay maybe students or casual employees to just help us weed, cut the grass and that sort of thing,” she said.

Still, Burnstad expressed some hesitancy about the increases.

“I am always a little bit worried about raising fees,” she said.

The fee increase was decided upon at an annual meeting on Jan. 24.

The meeting also saw a change in the leadership structure of Hay River Community Garden.

Beginning this year, the group will have co-presidents – Burnstad and Klaudia Mika.

Burnstad said the group decided to have two presidents because she is often out of town in June and September, which are times when the garden is starting up or closing down for the year.

The other members of this year’s executive are Norma Shaw, vice-president; Jarka Flood, treasurer; and Ron Shaw, secretary.

A half-dozen people attended the annual meeting.

Burnstad said one of the goals this year is to increase membership, which last year stood at 32.

“We need more membership,” she said, noting a lot of people will use two or three plots of the 60 in the garden.

Last year, 54 of the 60 plots in the garden were used.

There are also 60 smaller plots in the garden’s greenhouse.

Hay River Community Garden was founded in 2012.

“The reason that we have a garden is to grow vegetables organically and to make people’s grocery bills a little bit cheaper,” said Burnstad, noting that many of them have never gardened before.

People grow things like flowers, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants and zucchini in the greenhouse. In the outdoor plots, the gardeners mostly grow root vegetables such as beets, carrots and potatoes.

The garden was set up five years ago with the help of the Territorial Farmers’ Association and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

–Paul Bickford