News / Halifax

Community garden in Halifax blossoms into sustainable project

What do you do after you open a community garden and in its first season of operation 40 plots go up and hundreds of volunteers lend a hand?

Naturally, you have a community party, says Jayme Melrose, project coordinator for the Common Roots Urban Farm.

"Isn't that what humans do?" she said. "It's a great way for all of us to celebrate a great season."

Dozens braved Sunday's chilly temperatures to enjoy an old fashioned harvest hootenanny and pumpkin smash at the three-and-half acre location enveloped by Bell Road and Robie Street.

The event marks the end of the growing season. Since opening in June, residents and community groups have tended to their gardens producing everything from cabbage to parsnips to tomatoes. Companies have also chipped in, donating tools and supplies.

Next year the site promises to be bigger and better with the addition of more venues, including a you-pick flower garden.

Melrose says she's thrilled by the community's support. She also says the farm became a place where people from all walks of life came and worked together.

She says she took a lot of satisfaction working with a group of at risk youths, who, by season's end, developed into expert gardeners.

She recalled how one boy had a street conversation with an elderly man in a suit and convinced him to check out his garden.

"It was one of those moments, that this guy had enough ownership over the garden that he's giving the food away," she said. "How did that conversation start? All the stereotypes disappeared and this gentleman left with a bag full of food."

Farm volunteer John Hartling is also a councillor for some of those youths. He says the farm helped many of them immeasurably.

"For some them they've never had an opportunity to work like this," he said. They've never eaten fresh vegetables. To see the look on their faces was very memorable."

Jean de Saint-Sardos showed up to Sunday's event after a member of the group spoke at his church last week. He was surprised with what he saw.

"I had know idea something like this existed here," he said. "It's wonderful and a very encouraging thing to see."

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