Thanks to Our Food Project support, the Amherst Community Garden is really prospering this growing season. We were able to help with the hiring of a part-time Garden Coordinator, who has been able to bring some great food growing and management skills to the garden. The Coordinator, aspiring farmer Matthew Cole, has also had an important presence at the garden. As a result, the garden looks the best it ever has and has more uptake than in previous years, including plots by two local schools, Maggie’s Place Family Resource Centre and a local group home. Check out their new facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Amherstgarden2017/.
For the second year in a row, an afterschool youth program called Schools Plus (https://schoolsplus.ednet.ns.ca) has installed a pumpkin patch at the Amherst Community Garden. We were able to bring on a Schools Plus student as part of a Youth Garden Leadership Program to help maintain the pumpkin patch for a few hours a week this summer. This has proven a great experience for a local youth and also a boost to the community garden.
The Amherst Community Garden added 6 raised beds this Spring. This bed build was also a training workshop. Four people were trained on how to build raised beds, so that they could now organize a build on their own. This is part of the Our Food Project next phase of work – to spend more energy on training and leadership development of community food champions in Cumberland. To further this end, we are launching a Community Food Leadership Certificate Program in September. (https://ecologyaction.ca/communityfoodleader)
Above: Andy “Thor” Hinners, who led a raised bed build, pounds in a stake at the Amherst Community Garden
In Springhill, all twenty raised beds at the community garden were in use this summer, including 3 senior’s beds and a children’s summer camp plot. The garden also has a communal herb garden, berry and potato patches, as well as a beautiful pollinator garden and a medicine garden. A huge tomato plot was added this year, with the intention of using the produce for a salsa making workshop. I am so proud of this garden and though it’s hard to have favourites, I have a soft spot in my heart for this garden and still maintain that it is the best model in the county, if not in the entire province! Much of this success is due to the fact that the garden has an amazing coordinator in Alex Watson, a retired senior with loads of garden experience and the passion for passing on his knowledge.
Above: Alex Watson, Coordinator of the Springhill Community Garden
The Cost-Share CSA Local Food Box Program is going very well this summer, with over 20 families subscribed. This project connects low-income families directly with local farms for a weekly fresh food box for half price. Thanks to a small grant from the Public Service Agency of Canada, we were able to supply a few fully subsidized food boxes to a local senior’s residence again this summer. The recipients were so pleased with their weekly food boxes and did their best to share recipes and any extra produce they had with others. We are hoping to raise enough money to continue some full subsidies to low income families or seniors on fixed incomes again next year. To learn how you can help support this innovative program, see: https://ecologyaction.ca/costshareCSA
Above: Jocelyn and Marcus Stright fill a bag with fresh veggies from Wysmykal Farm (www.wysmykalfarm.ca), as part of the Cost-Share CSA Local Food Box Program
In other exciting news, the Cumberland Food Action Network (CFAN) is planning a Board retreat. The group was recently incorporated as part of a formalization process and to help access funding to do the great community food work they do in the County. This small but mighty group, relatively new on the local food scene, has big plans in the coming months, including sponsoring farm-to-school events and much more. Check out the CFAN website at: http://cumberlandfoodactionnetwork.ca/
CFAN is also spearheading some food policy initiatives in the County, including the development of a Community Gardening Network and a Farmland Use Working Group. This committee is working with local farmers, business community, local politicians and concerned citizens to grow sustainable farming in the County. (https://adventuresinlocalfood.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/growing-farming-in-cumberland/)
Blog Written By: Su Morin, Ecology Action Centre, Community Food Coordinator – Cumberland County.
Adventures in Local Food is your source for food news in Nova Scotia, from pickles to policy. It is a project organized by the Ecology Action Centre
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