Members of Stettler community gardens committee, town councilors and administrative staff were all on hand Monday, Sept. 14 for the official launch of Stettler’s third community garden.
Although it was a rainy evening, visitors and guests were given a tour and an overview of the community gardens, what they included and the future plans for the site.
“Projects like these are good examples of how community groups can support one another and build something great,” said Rob Spencer, chair, community gardens subcommittee of the Heartland Beautification Committee.
“While this garden is a work in progress at present, it is going to be awesome as the remaining features are put in place and the space mellows.”
Funds for the third community garden came mostly from the regular budget line under Heartland Beautification Committee.
A local business also granted an additional fund of $2,000 for the fruit trees.
The third community garden is located at the east end of 51 Avenue, in the east end of the town.
With an area of about 6,000 square feet, the garden hase a raspberry orchard, which covers one-third of the total space, and a fruit border, besides having eight garden plots of varying sizes.
Speaking of the benefits of the community gardens, Spencer feels joint ventures such as these are essential for a healthy community.
“The community gardens see a tremendous amount of social interaction as people from different backgrounds come together to garden,” said Spencer. “With the volunteer involvement from the schools, we’ve had zero vandalism of the structures and kids buy into the community aspect of it.”
Although community gardens help beautify “an otherwise plain and useless green space and cuts down on mowing”, there are some “barriers” in the cost of running them, and also in terms of volunteer contributions, such as time, according to Spencer.
“It is hard to keep it all running smoothly and people don’t realize that it is a volunteer thing for most of us and that no one is paid,” said Spencer. “Maintenance of the public spaces is a challenge but we’re working on that, besides improving the soil is tough, as we rely on a limited town budget and very limited time for town staff to help us do stuff.”
Stettler’s first community garden is located off of 46 Avenue, between 56A Street and 57A Street.
“What started as a 5,000-square-feet space is now somewhere between 15,000-17,000 square feet, but could be closer to more than 20,000 square feet with the new orchard add-on,” said Spencer. “Despite its poor soil quality, it is one of the preferred locations, and is full every year, and includes a food bank garden area exclusively.”
The second community garden was built with $17,900, funding from the same local business in early spring of 2013, at the junction of 60 Street and 41 Avenue.
It is about 8,500 square feet in size, with about 7,500 of it reserved for vegetable gardening, the rest being a fruit bush border.