Despite rainy conditions, Green Thumb Garden Society (GTGS) members gathered at the community garden in Terrace May 27 for their first social event of the year.
Organized by the recently established GTGS social committee, the event started with a few kid-friendly activities before Don Russell, garden organizer, took the group on a tour of the two-acre site. The gardens recently received added support from city council, who voted on March 12 to cover the society’s $700 annual cost for liability insurance.
“We’re pleased with any help we can get from council, and it seems they are committed to keeping the garden here for the long term,” said Russell inside the garden’s large greenhouse. “A lot of people here come to the garden for the peace and quiet, and the things gardening gives to the soul… that’s an important asset.”
Russell said the society wants to maximize the use of the land by turning over some of the space allocated for community plots to individual gardeners, in the hopes of growing their membership. The society has seen at least five new members join in the last three months.
Individual gardeners till and maintain their own plots, while the community plots are maintained in part by all members and volunteers of the gardens.
Last year, the community potato and corn patch covered significant fractions of the garden, but they are smaller this year with eight members currently using the rows of the community space for growing their own produce. There are still rows allocated for community use, but portions haven’t been planted yet as of May.
“We’re trying to reduce the community plots to a bare minimum to get more individual gardeners here. We have room for more,” Russell said.
A survey was circulated to members in March whether they would like a row of their own in the community potato and corn patch. The decision to narrow down the space for community plots in favour of individual plots came as a result, according to Russell. It costs $25 to hold an individual plot for the year.
“You’ll see the limitations of the individual plots, there is very limited space in where we can go, so if they pick up a row in what used to be the community side, that’s good,” Russell said. “The individual production of food will go down but overall it will go up because we will have more members.”
There has been some tension among some of the society’s membership over different visions for the space, but Russell believes prioritizing individual plots over community space will benefit the gardens in the long-run.
“It’s just what happens when this many people try to cooperate, and they don’t have the same vision… but that’s alright,” Russell said.
“I’d like all of them to be in the same boat I’m in… right now, I’m still eating potatoes I grew last year and they’re just really beautiful potatoes, and I’ll probably be able to do that until new potatoes grow out of the ground.”
There are individual gardeners who grow some of their produce to donate to community organizations in Terrace like the Happy Gang Centre, where surplus from the community side is also taken for donation. The garden’s row of apple trees and berry bushes will still be available for anyone to use, and there are still a few rows within the garden’s potato and corn patch that are allocated for the community.