What’s the first step to bringing an outdoor community garden to Invermere?
Putting up a deer and bear proof fence, say Groundswell Network education co-ordinator Ally Candy.
The group, which built and operates the community greenhouse at David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS), hopes to have the fence up before the ground freezes, and is looking to build excitement for the mix of gardening, teaching and public space to follow.
An early draft of the garden plan features raised beds — which tend to require less yearly maintenance and weeding — fruit and nut trees, a pond and seating areas, as well as wheelchair ramps to make the area more accessible.
Once complete, the space will be open to students at DTSS and the College of the Rockies (which also partners with Groundswell), and the community at large.
The community garden will offer classes and be used to display sustainable gardening techniques, says Candy. Its beds will also be available for rent by local gardeners, who may lack planting space at their homes, or simply like the idea of having a plot that’s already been deer-proofed.
“It’s a model that’s been hugely successful in other places. And for us it means we don’t have to garden the whole space,” says Candy.
Students who tend to vegetables in the greenhouse will have roles in the outdoor project too, however.
“Right now we’re growing food in here for the school cafeteria. Kids get to help grow it and make it happen, then they get to harvest it, take it up and serve it up there. So we want to be able to continue that outdoors as well and have some more food production out there,” says Candy.
Outdoor plots will allow the school to grow vegetables for its meal program that are better served by a non-hothouse setting — carrots or onions, for instance. Bringing students and other community members into the space also meets another of Groundswell’s goals for the space.
“We really want it to be a connection zone for all ages, and have people come in with their little kids and at all ages, and try to break down that segregation that we have in our society,” Candy says.
While the fence is slated to go up as soon as possible, the rest of the project will get underway next spring.
The group hopes to have some outdoor beds built and ready to go by spring, with the rest of the space built out “as we have capacity in terms of help by the community and materials and that kind of thing,” Candy says.
To get involved in the project, email Groundswell at firstname.lastname@example.org.