Give gardening a try at the Sioux Lookout Community Garden
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
The Sioux Lookout Community Garden is hoping to be open to the public once again, as soon as snow levels drop enough to allow for some after winter maintenance to occur. While many may be eager to get their garden started, as Joanne Falk-Peacock, Community Garden Coordinator, notes, “We usually plant the first part of May, but looking at it now, it might be June!”
Falk-Peacock continued, “I usually try to open May long weekend, but who knows when that will happen this year, as I need to get some municipal workers to come in and repair some of the beds. Just from the weight of the snow and everything, sometimes they split on the corners. So, they have to come in to repair them and that’s all got to do with when they’ve got time, so it’s the weather and repairs.”
First opened in 2006, the Community Garden has been a resource to area residents ever since, and as Falk-Peacock explains, grew out of an idea first formed by the Sioux Lookout Environmental Committee.
“When I first joined the Municipal Environment Committee, community gardening was one thing we wanted to get started on. We were working in partnership with the Northwestern Health Unit, and I was on the Environment Committee as a Health Unit employee. That’s why I got involved in the Environment Committee, through the Health Unit. It took us a while to find a piece of property, so we approached the municipal council and asked if there was a piece of land somewhere that we could have to open a garden and they gave us the piece that we have right now. Things just took off from there. We got some funding from the Municipality, so we did have some money to get things moving. When we first opened, I think we only had 15 beds, but over the years we’ve added to that, and we now have 26 beds.”
As with many grass roots projects, the creation of the garden became a community affair, with several groups pitching in to get the project off the ground.
“We had partnerships with the Queen Elizabeth District High School woodworking class, and they built the first 15 beds for us.” Falk-Peacock continued, “They also built our shed. We paid for the materials, and they built the shed, so that was absolutely amazing. That was when Katimavik was still coming to town, so they built our composter for us, then we got our main signage and bulletin board up. Our most recent purchase was a greenhouse on site.”
Garden plots are available to rent for the season for a small fee, which this year was increased slightly due to rising costs associated with running the program. A plot rental fee of $30 covers the growing season and covers a $5 key deposit. When keys are returned at season’s end, the deposit is refunded.
“The space is available to anyone. Usually, it’s first come first served. Some people message me in January asking to be put on the list. I only have five beds left right now.”
The garden also has a supply of gardening tools available for use on site. As Falk-Peacock notes, having those items available allows those individual’s just getting started to try gardening without a large investment in equipment. Once you’ve paid for your plot, all you need to supply is the seeds, and the time.
Several of the beds are also set aside for other community programs. Falk-Peacock notes, “We do a children’s program through the Northwestern Health Unit. I partner with them so we can do a kid’s gardening program where kids come once a week and we start from scratch. They learn about gardens. They learn about planting, maintaining, and harvesting. Sometimes, if time permits, we do gardening crafts and such as well. I also reserve eight beds that I do the gardening in, and I donate the food to the Out of the Cold shelter and the food bank. It’s basics like potatoes, carrots, beans. Things they can use for soups or with a meal. Sometimes the food bank freezes them to hand out to folks who come to the food bank, or they give them out fresh also.”
One thing Falk-Peacock has come to realize is that sometimes individuals who start out renting beds at the Community Garden, then wind-up gardening at home as well. As Falk-Peacock relates, “I’ve noticed over the years, people will come, really enjoy the gardening, and then they make their own gardens at home. This way, they can come and get a taste of it, see if they like it, then they can do it at home. Whether it’s a big bed or growing in pots and containers, it’s also good physical activity. It’s great for socializing, and it’s also good mental therapy, to get outside and do something.”
Individuals interested in securing a garden plot for the upcoming season are encouraged to message Joanne
Falk-Peacock on Facebook.