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Gander’s green thumbs

Elder Smith spent the evening caring for his garden bed by watering, weeding and adding soil.
Elder Smith spent the evening caring for his garden bed by watering, weeding and adding soil.

GANDER, NL – With the evening sun shining down, providing the perfect growing conditions, a group of green thumb volunteers were toiling away on Wednesday.

They were pulling weeds, watering plants and adding soil to get the greatest yield from the 100-per-cent organic Gander Community Garden.

The garden has 31 individual garden boxes and beds, which are maintained by individuals and couples, with everything from tomatoes to broccoli among the produce being grown.

There’s a community aspect as well – a number of large beds are maintained by the group as a whole. Come harvest time the produce is shared between the volunteers and the food bank.

Furthermore, for the past two years, the group has been working with Gander Academy’s Grade 3 class. Sponsored by the Gander Community Garden, the town’s six Grade 3 classrooms start the growing process – with Little Green Thumb kits at a cost of approximately $11,000 – in the school and transfer the produce to the community garden during the last week before summer break.

Members of the Gander Community Garden get together on Wednesday evenings to tend the garden. Pictured, is, Henriette LaCourse, left, and Sister Smith.


Great growing

Even though the winter conditions persisted longer than usual, grower Jeff Keefe said, this has been the best growing season at the garden since it was first started three years ago.

“Weather wise, it’s been fantastic, almost too dry” said Keefe. “For the last three weeks our challenge has been keeping everything watered.”

There’s a lot of prep work in looking after the crops, such as putting in six foot netting to support pea shoots as they grow.


Seeking expansion

With each passing year the garden’s popularity continues to grow, to a point that there’s now a waiting list.

The garden committee is extremely appreciative of everything St. Martin’s Anglican Church has done for the group in allowing access to the land. However, space has run out, as there’s not enough room to set up a commercial-sized greenhouse, and there’s also plans to develop an orchard.

The garden committee has reached out to the Town of Gander about finding a location, with electrical, and water and sewer hookups, that would allow for an expansion.

According to a recent meeting of council, the search for a suitable location continues.

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