Sunday, 1 March 2015

Plant-A-Row

Hey everyone,

I recently spoke with some of the senior members of my Rotary Club and they told me about something that they used to do in Red Deer called "Plant A Row". It's a very simple concept and here is how it works.

1) Get a bunch of volunteers together who are willing to work a garden.
2) Get some accessible land donated to use as an urban farm.
3) Get some supplies and seeds donated.
4) Grow a garden.
5) Donate the food to whoever needs it.

It is a simple idea and apparently it used to work really well. All it needs is a few leaders to come together and make it happen! And now is the perfect time because spring is right around the corner!

There are a lot of hurdles to over come at each step and here are a few of my ideas:

1) In order to make this sustainable we need a core group of volunteers; but the work of gardening can easily become a burden. So realistically I'm thinking that it would be feasible to do weekly rotations. Say one group of 5 or 10 tend to the garden over a week and then another group tends the garden the next week. If there were several groups then volunteers would only have to commit to a few hours once every other week or so. Either way the more the merrier!

2) Getting land sounds easy but I'm not too sure how to go about lining that up. The dreamer in me visualizes turning some city owned land into the garden. Maybe even the space on the North Hill just south of the Parkland Mall between the northbound and southbound lanes on Gaetz ave. This space would be perfect as it faces south, gets good drainage and has limited foot traffic. Another benefit is that it is highly visible and that would generate lots of public interest! But realistically this may be too grand and I may have to find somewhere else like Mitchener centre or the college.

3) As for supplies, I know that the city strongly encourages community gardening and there may already be resources available. There may also be potential to get supplies donated from a hardware store if they get permission to put up a sign or something. Or maybe if we agree to donate a certain amount of the crop to a charity they would help with the upfront cost of getting the seeds?

Also if a good site is found it would be a good opportunity to showcase how composting can be used to enrich the soil and sustainably increase yield. I wonder if a grocery store would donate all their throw away produce to the cause so it could be composted on site and used to enrich the soil? A large compost bin could be built nearby and after the fall harvest it could be added to the garden making it ready for a highly productive growing season the following year!

4) Growing a garden is rewarding and enjoyable. If something like this were to happen there would be many new friendships forged. It would have the added benefit of making people more connected to their community and their own food supply. Also this would raise awareness about environmental sustainability.  - WIN! WIN! WIN!

5) Since the main objective of this endeavour would be to donate the majority of the food to charity after everything is said and done this could be very beneficial to the community. There is need all around us from the Food Bank to the Soup Kitchen to the Ronald McDonald House. This idea could be part of the solution to fill those needs. 

So I am going to put out the call!

Is there anyone interested in helping to get this started this year? If so please let me know. Once we get enough people together we will setup a time and a place to meet and we'll go from there.

What do you think?

Cheers,

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