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Community Garden hopes to grow bigger this year

By Ken Johnston

While some areas received snow overnight Sunday and Monday, members of the Rainy River Community Garden are eager to get planting this spring.
Heidi Ivall of the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) and Healthy Communities Coalition (HCC) said Monday, “Our goal is to fill all 12 family plots and four raised beds this year! We want to see the program grow!”
Last year all but two were utilized and while some are coming back from last year they still have about half the plots/beds available.
This is the third year the Rainy River Community Garden has been open. Ivall said that the first year was a learning year and the weather was not great. “We had three monsoon rains that spring and it became apparent we needed some ditching.” That work has been done and the plots have had a good lift of nutrients added to them. “Last year was a great year! It was a really impressive garden,” said Ivall.
The basic premise behind the community garden is not only to provide residents who do not have access to a garden but also to province nutrition and physical activity. The raised beds are designed so that seniors can garden without having to bend down and while not as many as they had hoped took part the last two years, Ivall is hopeful they will see that change this year. “It has been mostly families utilizing the plots, but older residents are welcome too.”
The garden began with the help of the Ontario Government’s Healthy Communities Initiative. However, that funding has run out so the user fee for the garden has risen to $30 for the season. Ivall said that members get a lot for that fee. “They get a fully stocked tool shed, access to a tiller, fuel for the tiller, access to composting, water system with hoses, fertilized plots (as needed) and a spring and fall till.”
Full family plots are 20’X30’. Individual plots are 15’X20’. The user fee for individual plots is $20 per season.
The very successful Kids Garden Club will be returning this year as well. It will begin on Wednesday, May 23 and run to September. It will be held every Wednesday after school with kids utilizing a special plot saved for them at the Community Garden.
There will be a Community Garden planning meeting on April 24th for both registered garden members and anyone who is interested in finding out more information. It will be held at the NWHU at 7:30 p.m.
Anyone wishing to register for a plot before then can visit the NWHU at the corner of Hwy. 11 and Fourth St. in Rainy River or for more info. call Ivall at NWHU at 852-3268.
Participants are expected to plant by late May and will have to sign a contract with obligations such as regular maintenance like weeding, etc. “You can’t just plant in the spring and harvest in the fall,” said Ivall.
With great results last year they are hopeful that this year will see even more growth and success!