St. Patrick’s Organic Community Garden to open, with measures to protect public
Whether you’re a return gardener or want to try your hand at it for the first time, the St. Patrick’s Organic Community Garden will be opening its gate again this summer, albeit with some minor changes to accommodate provincial COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
The garden, found along St. Clare Avenue across from the Saint Patrick Roman Catholic Church, will open June 1.
“We’re really excited that we have the opportunity to be able to open our doors to gardeners again,” said Alicia Hopkins, chair of the committee. “We’re all looking forward to being able to add a little light to people’s lives. People are definitely feeling the pain of not being able to partake in the regular activities that they normally do this time of year.”
Of course, it’s not ‘business as usual,’ as the committee has made a number of minor adjustments to accommodate the unusual circumstances.
“Because of COVID-19 we’ve had to change the way that we do things and how we can achieve our goals as a community garden while keeping in mind the health and safety of our gardeners,” said Hopkins.
Those measure include limiting the amount of gardeners that can be in the garden at any one time to six gardeners, suspending the use of communal gardening tools and seeds, asking, though not mandating, people to use gloves, revising the gardening schedule so that the Town can safely perform maintenance and up keep duties, closing the shed (where communal tools are kept) and the greenhouse, and waiving the annual $20 registration fee.
Of the 38 beds, some are communal. Hopkins said that some of those communal beds may be converted to accommodate more gardeners. As of the evening of May 25, 24 gardeners had registered.
Hopkins said that the number is consistent with numbers they’ve seen over the year, noting that the garden has a high turn over rate— although she explained that that’s not a bad thing.
“We find that people come for one or two years and they don’t bother to come back. And at first, that might seem like a negative thing but it’s actually really fantastic because people are coming and learning something that they didn’t know before— maybe they’ve seen their grandparents do it but they’ve never had to, so they didn’t learn— and those people are coming, and learning for one or two years, and reminding themselves of the knowledge they do have, and learning so much in the process, and, in my experience and in talking to other gardeners, they’re building beds at home or gardening in the ground at their own property. So, it’s a great thing that we have a great turn over, because it means that people are taking it and running with it.”
Hopkins noted that she has noticed an uptrend in in recent years towards home gardening and animal rearing.
“Almost everybody I know now is growing basil in their kitchen or has a tomato plant hanging where they would traditionally put a flower planter,” said Hopkins.
“When people get into gardening vegetables a little bit more, that’s only going to translate into seeing how else they can better obtain food in this province.”
The garden, which was opened in 2012 to increase self-sufficiency and promote social activity, will be open from 7 am-10 am, then 12 pm to 3 pm, and 6 pm to 9 pm.