Aug 25

Downtown Community Garden Update

by Downtown Calgary · 0 comments

after hail

If you took a walk down Barclay Parade (3rd Street SW) at the end of July you would have seen the beautiful gardens that line the street. Not only lush colourful flowers and tall grasses but also the Community Gardens between 5th and 6th Avenue.

The gardens, a partnership between Downtown Calgary and The Drop In & Rehab Centre (DI), have been adding vitality to the street for several years. Maintained by a dedicated group of DI volunteers, led by Volunteer Coordinator Jorge Campusano, the gardens featured a multitude of flowers, herbs and vegetables. The area proves to be very challenging, as shady conditions and high winds plague the block, making it difficult to grow anything.

It’s only after experimentation and trial and error that the volunteers learned exactly what will grow and what won’t. And it’s important that they do know, as the harvested crops go straight to the DI. With 1000 lunches served daily, many of those vegetarian, the vegetables help to feed the clients who rely on the service every day.

Fast forward a week and the walk down Barclay, after two days of fierce hail storms, looked starkly different. Flowers damaged, grasses flattened and vegetables completely wiped out. Strings that once held bountiful peas now hung lifeless. Lush flowers that surrounded the gardens were now stripped of petals and leaves. Our Community Garden was on it’s death bed, until the DI and Morguard, a sponsor of the project, stepped in.

after replanting

Working tirelessly on a daily basis, the DI volunteers cleared out the damaged plants and tended to anything that showed a sign of life. Though hope wasn’t high for anything to return, they pushed on, eager to overcome - a mentality Jorge says all of his DI volunteers possess and exactly what is going to help get the gardens back on their feet. With contributions from the CDA and Morguard, planting of new flowers and a few vegetable seeds has begun.

Slowly but surely life begins again in the Community Garden plots. Though it is unlikely a substantial harvest will result, it’s the effort and drive that exemplify what this project is all about. It’s about giving the community a sense of ownership and stewardship, it’s about adding vitality to an area that is otherwise unnoticed, it’s about giving an unforgettable volunteer experience for those whose desire it is to prove nothing is impossible.

lettuce growing back

On September 2nd we will be shutting down Barclay Parade between 5th and 6th Avenue, partnering with Honens to animate the block further with the Concrete Sonata, featuring our Woodlands Piano. The DI volunteers will be out, nurturing the gardens and working hard to maintain their efforts. Stop by at noon, enjoy a performance by Honen’s Laureate Pavel Kolesnikov and check out how far the gardens have come.

Enjoy your lunch, talk to a volunteer or just enjoy the music. We will be accepting donations to the Calgary Food Bank as well as the Drop In Centre, please see their needs list for donation ideas. Vegetable donations to go towards the DI lunch program will also be accepted.

A huge thanks to the Drop In Centre and our many sponsors, including Morguard, Caffee Artigiano, Blue Grass and the City of Calgary.


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