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Harbour Main residents learning to grow with new community garden

Nic Fairbridge believes a lot of good things will come from the new community garden in Harbour Main.
Nic Fairbridge believes a lot of good things will come from the new community garden in Harbour Main. - Andrew Robinson

Project includes edible forest featuring fruit trees

Through a grant from Trees Canada, the committee was able to purchase and plant an edible forest in the community garden that includes over 30 fruit trees.
Through a grant from Trees Canada, the committee was able to purchase and plant an edible forest in the community garden that includes over 30 fruit trees.

HARBOUR MAIN, N.L.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

CANADA

A new community garden in Harbour Main is looking to bring people together through a love for food and the outdoors.

The town’s recreation committee, chaired by Suzette Doyle, got the ball rolling on the project when it secured start-up funds from the provincial government through the Community Healthy Living Fund.

The Church of Saints. Peter and Paul Parish agreed to provide a hectare of land next to its cemetery, and the town agreed to help clear and prepare the land.

A separate garden committee now oversees the planning and development for the 20-plot garden and its orchard.

The orchard came about through a grant from Trees Canada that enabled the committee to purchase and plant over 30 fruit trees that will produce apples, plums and pears.

Nic Fairbridge, a member of the garden and recreation committees, says it will take a few years for some of these trees to bear fruit.

It’s not altogether certain what will happen with the fruit from the trees and berries from shrubs, but Fairbridge has ideas.

A sea buckthorn bush produces tart berries. It’s also useful when it comes to improving soil, as it releases nitrogen into the earth.
A sea buckthorn bush produces tart berries. It’s also useful when it comes to improving soil, as it releases nitrogen into the earth.

“Right now, we’re just open, we’re just going with what the community is interested in, whether that’s going to be a u-pick (or) a crop share,” Fairbridge told The Compass during a recent visit to the garden. “What I’d really like to see is possibly use some of the produce to get our seniors together and all those other folks who might have skills, whether that’s brewing, baking, canning, whatever, and teach the next generation (those skills). Then, maybe, we can sell some of the canned goods and other stuff back to the community . . . as a fundraiser to keep adding to the garden.”

There are 18 families using the plots. Most of them ost are relatively new to gardening, according to Fairbridge. Two additional plots are reserved for the town’s summer youth program.

“A lot of it is folks who have young kids, and they just want to get their kids into (gardening),” he says.

So far, the gardeners have grown cabbage, broccoli, onion, lettuce, carrots and a variety of other vegetables. Fairbridge says the committee will look to build more boxes each year if there’s interest in using them.

A resident recently donated two large plastic containers that the volunteer fire department has helped keep full of water.

Down the road, there’s talk of setting up some fencing to reduce wind exposure and building a community composter. The committee would also like to host a harvest feast in the fall.

“There’s not going to be much of a harvest this year, but as we go, what we’d really like to see is a harvest dinner,” Fairbridge says. “Years and years ago, a lot of folks talked about a town dance that used to be held in the parish hall. I guess it was just an annual event, and there’s always been a push to bring it back. So, we thought this would perhaps be an opportunity, along with the harvest side, just to do a community dinner.”

In addition to the recreation committee, Fairbridge acknowledges the town’s beautification committee, chaired by Patricia Kelly, has been very supportive in getting a community garden established in Harbour Main.

editor@cbncompass.ca

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