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The High Level Community Garden Association will offer more space for public gardening this year with a number of upgrades made possible through a $30,000 grant the Town of High Level received from the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta.
This grant was to be used to support food security to the vulnerable populations in response to the covid-19 pandemic.
A community garden is a place where people who may not have access or space for a garden can come and do some gardening. The gardens are located in two spots in High Level – at The Village and behind the High Level Christian Fellowship Church.
The gardens are open to anyone in the community and are free to use. Public gardening is a fun, COVID-19-safe physical activity that families can take part in together. They promote food security in the community when they are harvested. Community gardens promote social health and community cohesion.
The Community Foundation grant allowed the High Level Community Garden Association to partner with local builders Derksen and Son Construction who have built nine new planter boxes, two greenhouses, four mobility access planters, and a new toolbox for The Village.
The Town of High Level, Community Development Manager Jena Clarke said the process of signing up and being a community gardener is very easy.
“When you register, we will provide you with a starter kit with an assortment of seeds,” she said. “You will have access to all the water and tools you will need. We’ll also provide you with access to our green houses if you need it.”
“We ensure the boxes are maintained and filled with soil every year,” she added. “We make sure they are all cleaned out at the end of the season. We also ensure people are adhering to the rules of the sites and making sure the sites are kept tidy.”
This year, the High Level Community Garden Association was able to run a “Gardening 101 Zoom Class” and gave out 40 gardening kits. Sunscape Garden did a zoom presentation with a question and answer period.
The gardens are available for any time of planting – both vegetables and flowers. Additionally, organic plots are available on a First Come, First Served basis. Local residents are also free to use their own seeds to plant flowers and vegetables not provided in the starter kit. Some community gardeners have been making use of the program for years and prefer to plant their own seeds harvested from crops from previous years.
The new additions will be installed once the snow is gone, and the goal is to have the plots ready for planting by the Victoria Day long weekend in May, with registration opening up at the beginning of May. Depending on weather, the garden plots are traditionally harvested in August or September.
In the past, the High Level Community Garden Association has held a wrap-up event at the end of the growing season. The event included a canning swap that was very popular. While that event was not possible last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, organizers are hoping to return to that fun event possibly this year – and perhaps even holding a canning clinic for those interested in preserving their tasty garden harvest!
“I this is a really good opportunity if you are a first time gardener, or if gardening is a passion but you don’t have the space for it,” said Clarke. “It’s a very nice activity, and with COVID-19 restrictions in the Public Health Order, you can still do it while adhering to social distancing for outdoor activities.”
The High Level Community Garden Association would like to thank both The Village and the Christian Fellowship Church for their work in providing a space for the Community Gardens and for their continuing efforts at making the project an annual success.
Please watch the Town’s social media for information on registering for the High Level Community Gardens.
The High Level Community Garden Association is comprised of representatives from Alberta Health Services, Christian Fellowship, The Mackenzie Region Resource Centre, the Town of High Level, and business representatives