A group of Grade six students from the soon to be closed Meaford Community School visited the community garden located on the grounds of Georgian Bay Secondary School on June 2 to plant some roots at what will become their new school beginning next year.

“Because Meaford Community School is closing and our Grade four to eight students will be coming to Georgian Bay Community School we decided that we would participate in this community garden,” MCS teacher Kirsten Andresen told The Independent. “This is sort of a wrap up and pay it forward project for the community. So we started planting a couple of weeks ago at the school, along with talking about gardening and healthy eating and healthy living, so it all tied together. It's a good way to transition to the high school, be part of this community, be part of the whole community.”

Adresen said that the visit to the community garden also offered some valuable hands-on lessons for the students who might never have been exposed to growing food, or working in the garden.

Before planting, there was plenty of weeding for the students to complete under the guidance of community garden volunteers.

One of those volunteers, Mary Bryant, who is also one of the founders of the community garden initiatives in Meaford, told The Independent that this year is the seventh season for the organization, and what started as a small garden has grown significantly in those years. In addition to the large community garden, there are several smaller individual plots, and each member helps weed, water, and harvest the crops which are put to good use when ready.

“It (harvested vegetables) goes to the food bank first, and then on Thursdays we have a little market between 5 and 7 pm in front of the Church of the Nazerene, and the idea behind that is the food is available to anybody with a pay-as-you-can format,” explained Bryant.

This year, the Meaford Community Gardens crew is looking forward to cultivating more gardeners and food producers in the Municipality of Meaford.

“With the help of a grant from the Municipality of Meaford, a hoop house will be erected at the G.B.S.S. Community Garden this spring to help with the growing of warm-loving crops, to extend the growing season and help start plants in the spring. Youth will continue to be engaged in gardening and food production, which includes continuing to offer tours and learning opportunities in the community gardens to school groups, hosting youth attending summer camps, and running kids garden clubs at the gardens,” said the organization in a press release issued last week.

A number of workshops will also be planned through this year, including weekly sessions with Joan Williams, one of Meaford Community Gardens’ gardening mentors, who will be at the G.B.S.S. Community Garden to share her wealth of gardening knowledge.

commgdnvolunteers2016 270In 2015, the Meaford Community Gardens crew had a busy year. Some of the highlights of 2015 included:

  • St. Vincent Euphrasia School (S.V.E.) class tours of the Georgian Bay Secondary School Community Garden

  • The establishment of the S.V.E. Community Garden, with the help of a grant through Community Foundation Grey Bruce

  • The establishment of the St. Vincent Centre for Organic Farming, located just outside the west side of the town of Meaford along Highway 26

  • The Growing the Village Green project, which entailed expanding the garden space and installing a fence, creating new garden plots, planting two pear trees and an apple tree, and installing a new shed, with the help of a grant through Community Foundation Grey Bruce

  • Planting fruit trees and installing new raised beds at the Georgian Bay Secondary School (G.B.S.S.) Community Garden. Many of the raised beds were created for the purpose of kids gardening programs.

  • A successful Meaford Community Gardens Plant Sale at the Seedy Sunday event at The Barn Cooperative Network

  • A successful Meaford Community Gardens Market, which occurred every Thursday, 5-7pm, from July until September, in front of the Church of the Nazarene. All of the produce is offered on a pay-what-you-can basis.

  • An increased amount of produce brought to the Golden Town Outreach Food Bank, more than previous years

  • The continued success with the utilization of the organic waste from McGuinty’s and G.B.S.S. in compost at the G.B.S.S. Community Garden

  • The youth engagement and help with the community gardens, as part of the Growing Growers project, with the help of funding from Community Foundation Grey Bruce

  • Hosting kids who took part in the ‘Kids in the Garden’ camp, run by the Municipality of Meaford, at the G.B.S.S. Community Garden

If you are interested in growing food for yourself and the community in any of the community gardens and/or are interested in getting involved with any of the activities that Meaford Community Gardens is involved in, please contact Mary Bryant at 519-538-2558.