By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – This past weekend’s heavy snowfall and oncoming cold snap may have many residents looking forward to spring, but for a group of avid local gardeners the onset of warmer weather a few months down the road may mark the start of a community garden in Morinville.
Morinville resident and long-time gardener Valerie Loseth said the Morinville Centennial Community Gardens group will be holding a public meeting at the Morinville United Church Jan. 24 to gauge public interest in the idea.
“I figured getting everybody together and asking them what they would like to see in a community garden is the best way to formulate where we go from here,” Loseth said, adding the Morinville United Church has already committed a portion of their property for raised beds. “We can fit approximately eight to 10 in the backyard there.”
Loseth said the raised beds would ideally be used for gardeners with disabilities or limited mobility, as well as by community groups who are interested in having a small garden for personal or educational purposes. In addition to the raised beds, the group is hoping to acquire some land from the Town of Morinville for in-ground beds.
Although Loseth had been thinking of starting a community garden for some time, it was a church mission trip to Vancouver last summer that gave her additional ideas about how a community garden could be done as well as the resulting benefits.
“I saw what community gardens can do for a community and I just wanted to bring it back here,” she said, adding there was considerable interest when she mentioned it to the United Church congregation. “The more I talked about it, the more I found that people thought it was a brilliant idea.”
But Loseth and her group see the prospect of a community garden expanding beyond Morinville residents merely growing some vegetables for their supper table. It is hoped those involved in community gardening will learn from one another about growing food and preserving it beyond the harvest.
“I’m interested in the educational aspect of community gardening,” she said. “Teaching people organic gardening so that they know where their produce has come from and what’s sitting in front of them on the table. And perhaps having people teach them about canning or pickling. My generation – we had no idea how to do that kind of thing. I think that would be a great learning aspect for people, to learn how to deal with this produce that they’ve grown so they don’t end up wasting it.”
But whatever direction a person’s interest in community gardening lies, Loseth feels the initiative is as much about growing community as it is about growing produce.
“It plays an important role in development for healthy community,” she said, adding it allows an opportunity for residents to come together to socialize. “It doesn’t matter what religion or culture you are. You can all just get together and work in a community garden.”
The meeting will be held at the Morinville United Church Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. The group also has started a Morinville Centennial Community Gardens page on FaceBook.