Funding sought for two community garden projects in Didsbury

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Staff are looking at Southridge Park and the 15A Street park behind the Didsbury Town Administration Office as locations for around 20 community planters around six feet by three feet in each park

DIDSBURY – While home gardeners are currently reaping the fruits of their labour, staff at the Town of Didsbury are already looking to expand the opportunities for green thumbs in the community in the upcoming growing season.

The council gave the administration the go-ahead at last week’s regular meeting to seek federal funding to develop community gardens in the city in 2023 after a presentation by Nicole Aasen, community services manager for the city of Didsbury.

“It was a good opportunity to tick a box on something that had been on a list for a long time for something that is wanted by the community. We know people in the community, I know people in Didsbury, who rent or borrow garden space from people in the county because they don’t have the capacity to do so within their own community. It gives them that chance,” Aasen said.

The project involves the design and installation of two community gardens, serving both ends of Didsbury. As currently planned, each community garden would include a water source, a path through the gardens, caged fences, benches, signage, a potting table, a compost bin and planted fruit trees.

The City of Didsbury is applying to the Natural Infrastructure Fund which would cover 80% of the project’s estimated $80,000 cost. Council has committed by way of motion to provide the remaining $16,000 if the bid is successful.

Staff are looking at Southridge Park and the park on 15A Street behind the Didsbury Town Administration Office as locations for around 20 community planters measuring around six feet by three feet.

“So when we thought about where to put them, we looked at which locations in the community have parks that are either underutilized or have a lot of space, what would be a valuable asset and how these parks are currently in use,” Aasen told the council.

A community garden is not a new idea, she says.

At the 2022 Economic Development Workshop, the Didsbury Economic Development Advisory Committee (DEDAC), representing the general public, listed flowers and vegetation, green spaces and community gardens as suggestions for improvement community. Community gardens have also been identified as a council priority in the City of Didsbury Leisure Master Plan Addendum 2019.

“I think there are a lot of people who are interested in the community. And it hits a lot of other markers…beauty and it really focuses on food safety and environmental stewardship and all the things that we’re trying to work towards as a municipality and I think that’s just a logical next step for us,” she said.

Several council members expressed concern about the ongoing maintenance of the gardens.

“Who is going to police, who is going to weed when someone is not weeding it, does it take more time for the staff?” questioned the council. Joyce McCoy.

Aasen said she thought there would certainly need to be some policing and surveillance, in the hope that it would be a minimal burden on staff who are already in the parks so keep on going.

“Our plan was that if we could go ahead with the application, we would really work on the logistics of how they would be registered, if there would be a minimal cost associated with that, because that often encourages people to take better care of them and really connect with other communities that have successful community gardens to make sure those who were placed in our community were on the right path to success,” she said. declared.

During his deliberations on Aasen’s request, Councilor. John Baswick questioned the sustainability of the project.

“What I mean is it’s a one trick pony – this year we’re all excited about it and next year they’re not even showing up to plant anything and then you have these wooden structures sitting there taking up space in our parks. I don’t know what the context is on that. Everyone is excited right now, but will it continue? Has it been demonstrated with other communities?” Baswick asked Aasen.

She said she hasn’t yet researched the experiences of other communities, and instead talked about “what we as a world have been through over the past couple of years with COVID” and how the People’s interest in gardening and growing flowers has increased dramatically.

And it’s not just amateurs, she suggested, pointing to the economy and the current cost of things.

“So I think food security is an issue. It’s a problem everywhere. And that’s a problem in Didsbury. If there is a way to provide an affordable or free opportunity for a family to be able to provide products for their family’s needs, then I think it’s a success,” she said. .

Staff expect to know within weeks of submitting the city’s application to the Natural Infrastructure Fund whether or not it was successful.

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