BAIE VERTE — The idea of a community garden in Baie Verte has Barbara Forward excited, and she believes there are many in the community feeling the same way.
Council is exploring funding options for the community garden. While it is early in the process at this point, the initiative is becoming known and has been receiving favourable reaction from potential users.
With it being popular as a recreational activity for people of all ages and a means of food security in many areas of the province, Forward believes it is a logical project for council to initiate for its residents.
“I think it would be great for us,” the retired teacher and community volunteer said. “Years ago, people always grew their own vegetables, my family did and lots of other families. Since I retired, I have a little garden myself in the backyard and dabbling in it. I think it is wonderful and certainly support it in any way I could. I hope others will too.”
Forward would consider using the community garden, if it comes to fruition. She would love to see it become a family activity for people in the town — from the planting of fruits and/or vegetables, to caring for them, watching them grow, and eventually harvesting.
“I grow lots of carrots, and I am so happy in the fall to go haul out the carrots,” she said. “It is just such a great thing to do.
“When I see carrots from Mexico at the Co-Op, I just cringe at the thought. It is such a long haul, and you don’t know how it is grown either.”
The reality of rural life in Newfoundland and Labrador is there is often not a fresh supply of fruits and vegetables at the local grocery stores. The trucking of such produces is a long process, and there are delays in delivery. A local source of produce would enhance the lives and diets of citizens.
“How often do we buy things at the Co-Op, and it is not their fault, that has been on the ferry for days stuck over in Nova Scotia somewhere?” Forward said. “Half the produce is wilted and things like that.”
Mayor Brandon Philpott said the town has applied to several funding sources to make a community garden. At the March 19 public meeting, council approved an application to the Farm Credit Canada (FCC) AgriSpirit Fund for $25,000. The fund is directed toward enhancing rural communities, supporting capital projects in towns of less than 150,000 people.
The project depends on acquiring such funding, according to the mayor.
“As much as we would like to be investing money into community gardens and stuff, just maintaining our current infrastructure like the stadium and marina is already to the point we need to start investing in them just to keep them,” he said. “It is very hard to offset money in a community garden when you have things in the community that are starting to fall down.”
The idea is one of several council has to attract people to the community and keep its residents happy with recreational opportunities.
“Community gardens are shown to be excellent outdoor recreation, and gives people some responsibility if they want to be involved in it,” Philpott said.
He believes the garden would be a great addition to the town, and that gardening has been something has slowly diminished in recent times. One reason is people don’t have the land or resources to do it, he says, and a project like this would change that.
The hope would be to have the garden located near the new retirement centre being built off Highway 410, according to the mayor. They have been examining models of gardens, and Philpott said he personally liked one he saw in Halifax. There, they have colour-coded raised beds for personal plots, community plots, and others for community groups or organizations.
“We have a number of models, but we are not sure what we would go with just yet,” he said. “We are trying to collect as much information and apply for whatever we can in hopes of getting something.”