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How to get your garden growing

Soil and green: Dig in and get dirty this summer, discover Halifax’s seedier side and get involved in a community garden.


Craving homegrown tomatoes but just don't have the space on your balcony? Want to eat potatoes planted with your own hands but just don't have the soil base in your yard? Looking to meet the people in your community while doing something rewarding? Consider joining a community garden in your neighbourhood this summer. Not only is a wonderful way to get out and flex your green thumbs, it's also a means of connecting with nature, creating a sense of community and reclaiming our city's green spaces. Best of all, food grown with your own hands somehow just tastes better, too!

Over the last few years urban gardens have been sprouting up throughout HRM, says Carey Jernigan, coordinator of the Urban Garden Project at the Ecology Action Centre. She thinks it has a lot to do with the growing interest in local food, environmentalism and food security. But no matter what your age, ability or interest, there's somewhere for you to dig in and get dirty in Halifax's community gardens this summer.

Ecology Action Centre Urban Garden Program

The Ecology Action Centre's Urban Garden Program is a great starting point if you're green to community gardening. The centre hosts workshops throughout the summer on topics ranging from simply getting your garden started to wild plant identification to container gardening. They're also available as a resource if you'd like to get your own garden started in your community or school. EAC cares for a small but productive garden on its property, but is more of a satellite resource for Halifax's urban gardeners rather than a gardening site.

Carey Jernigan, seasonal program coordinator, 2705 Fern Lane, 442-1077,

See More Green Collective Garden & Urban Agriculture Hub

Located on the Dalhousie campus and run through NSPIRG, this garden operates as a collective rather than out of individual plots. It's a great way to learn from other gardeners and share ideas. The group will offer a series of workshops and events throughout the summer on topics such as seed sharing and wild plant identification and a bike tour of the city's other gardens. The collective also cares for honeybees and is working on developing a medicinal garden full of native plants. Members meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 8:30pm, and drop-ins are welcome.

Angela Day, 1411 Seymour, 494-6662,

Halifax Landshare

Have land that you'd like to share with other aspiring gardeners? You can list it through the Halifax Landshare program---another great green EAC initiative.

The Urban Farm Museum Society of Spryfield

The Urban Farm Museum Society of Spryfield is one of the city's oldest urban garden societies, with a mandate of preserving the area's agricultural heritage. With its soil first tilled in 1998, the society now runs two farm museums. The three-acre Kidston farm field site features five large enclosed garden plots with raised planting beds and a large seated planter.

The farm offers produce sales throughout the season, with produce picked as it's ordered---can't get much fresher than that! Three years ago the society also launched a community garden in Greystone. It now features 10 raised planting beds and is a lovely spot for local children to garden. The farm is open each Saturday from 9:30am till noon for its Come Grow With Us program. The society also meets on the second Monday of each month at the Captain William Spry Community Centre. Stop by and see how you can lend a hand---or a green thumb!

Joanna Brown, volunteer coordinator/nurturer, 423-6112,

Peninsula Urban Gardens Society

Interested in owning your own garden plot in either the north or south end? The Peninsula Urban Gardens Society (formerly the North End Community Garden) now has two sites with 40 gardening plots---one on Prescott by the water tower, and the other on Gorsebrook Field in the south end of Halifax. Each group or family can apply for one plot per year, and there is an emphasis on sustainable and organic gardening. At $20 a year you can't get better priced land than that. Gardening began June 1, at which point if a plot is not in use it will go to the next name on the wait list.

Janet Shopwell, 6174 Murray Place, 423-7100,

Imagine Bloomfield Community Garden

Tucked away in Halifax's north end, the Imagine Bloomfield Community Garden is run out of the Bloomfield Community Centre. Although there is no membership cost, there is currently a wait list for the garden's 11 plots. The gardeners usually meet on Fridays and Saturdays, and they are trying to see if they can expand the garden to add more plots.

Susanna Fuller, 2786 Agricola,

You Grow!

Are you a Halifax youth interested in learning more about gardening? Run through Saint George's YouthNet program in the north end, this garden is open to local youth interested in learning new skills. Members must be registered with YouthNet in order to participate, but the program is free and the group gardens all year. The gardeners also participate in community garden and art projects throughout the city.

Youth Net, 2222 Brunswick Street, 422-4614,

Fuller Lawns Community Garden

Fuller Lawns is a collective garden run on the front lawn of the Agora Church. The focus is on small-scale food production in an urban context. Workshops will be offered throughout the summer and posted on the Halifax Garden Network listserv. It's free to join, but it is preferred that gardeners live in the Fuller Terrace area.

Mary-Grace Koile, 2730 Fuller Terrace, 483-9293

Christine Beevis didn't even know she had a green thumb until she watched the first crocus heads poke out of her small garden this spring, and is finding that gardening really is a great way to reconnect with the greener side of things.


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