By Jenn Schleich
March 20 is right around the corner and heralds the first day of spring; with spring comes backyard gardens, and more recently, community gardens and organic gardening workshops.
“It’s part of eating locally and reducing our carbon footprint,” said Charmaine Jenkins of the Kincardine Public Library, regarding the annual Organic Growing Program.
Entering its fourth year, the Organic Growing Program runs every Tuesday evening in the month of March. The program’s 18 spaces are already filled up this year, said Jenkins. The program is so popular the library doesn’t even have to advertise and people start e-mailing in early January to get registered.
The program is essentially a discussion group led by Janice McKean, who may be familiar to readers from her position as one of the co-ordinators of the Kincardine Community Garden and her involvement with the Kincardine Farmer’s Market. The McKeans also run an organic farm just north of town.
The Organic Growing Program is designed for the average backyard gardener and covers all sorts of issues pertaining to growing organic crops, from preparing the soil all the way to harvesting the vegetables.
“Not only do they gain something from the program they also get a sense of community with other gardeners,” said Jenkins, adding it’s “incredibly successful.”
For residents who don’t have a yard suitable for a vegetable garden the Kincardine Community Garden is an opportunity to have an organic garden of their own.
“The garden is organic, there are no herbicides or pesticides allowed within the community garden space,” said Chrystel Murphy, one of the coordinators of the garden.
The community garden is located in Geddes Park and has 35 plots available this year, up from 25 last year.
“It was really successful, last year we had 25 families and a long waiting list,” said Murphy. There are still a few coveted plots available this year for interested residents.
For a $20 fee and some volunteer commitment to cutting grass in the park, families can have a 10 x 10 ft. plot for the entire growing season.
“Each individual or group gets to decide what they want to plant in their plot,” said Murphy. Adding that local farmers donated crop seeds to the garden last year.
Ontario Power Generation has also donated money for the purchase of gardening tools and wheelbarrows. All tools are for community use within the garden and are stored in the Public Works barn. Public Works has a vested interest in the project and provides the facilities for gardeners to water their plots and also provides mulch.
Last year was the first year of the program and it will “definitely remain a permanent fixture within the community,” said Murphy. The volunteers who run the labyrinth garden were “happy to have us as garden neighbours; it worked out really well,” she added.
“It was hardly any work at all, everyone pitched in,” Murphy said.
The gardeners all got together and cooked a community soup with the vegetables harvested from their plots at the end of last year. Alongside Murphy and McKean, Doug McTavish also helps coordinate the garden.