FERGUS – There’s been some plotting and planning going on at the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex.
The planning has been going on for some time, but on Sept. 1 came the plotting.
A handful of volunteers hit the ground with rakes and spades as they prepared a piece of land near the tennis courts for a community garden, which should be ready for planting next spring.
It’s an ambitious plan they have for the land, said Daisy Moore, a member of the Community Garden Network that spearheaded the project.
There will be a food forest, a pollinator garden and several garden plots that can be rented by groups or individuals for a season.
A few of the garden plots will be raised beds for those with accessibility considerations.
“We hope to use this as a demonstration garden,” Moore said.
“A lot of people just need to be empowered. They don’t know what to do with a garden.”
Community gardens aren’t new and there are several in Centre Wellington that have been around for many years.
But the one at the sportsplex is the first on township property and if this goes well, the township might be convinced to allow the group in public parks in residential neighbourhoods.
“There is a demand for them,” Moore said. “Even people who have a house don’t always have a location for a vegetable garden.”
On Sept. 1 volunteers were spreading compost on the ground – right on top of the grass.
Later in the day the soil was tilled and then volunteers will be back to plant a cover crop. That will leave the soil in good shape for spring planting.
Volunteers will also delineate the separate plots with mulch.
Carole Pines was working the soil with the rest of the crew but kept glancing at the few fruit trees around the bend.
That is where her group, Centre Wellington Food Forest, will bring its project to life.
In a natural forest there is a tree canopy, a sub canopy under that, and then vegetation, roots and vines.
“The food forest mimics the natural forest, but it produces food,” Pines said.
“It’s a way of producing food that works with the environment. The idea is it becomes self-sustaining.”
So, fruit and nut trees, shrubs that bear fruit, root vegetables like carrots, and vines like grapes or peas could fill the bill.
“It’s a long-term project that will have to be managed over the years,” she added.
“But the forest, along with the pollinator garden, will form a system. Everything works together.”
Moore said organizers plan on having herbs like chives and oregano in the pollinator garden along with flowers, and future plans include planting edible perennials – like rhubarb and asparagus – near the old stone house near the site.
She said they’ll be looking for donations of plants for the pollinator garden. They hope to have the pollinator garden planted this fall.
Garden coordinator Michelle Goff will arrange the garden plot rentals and act as liaison between the gardeners and the township.
Plots will rent for $35 a season and the average size will be 16 by 12 feet, although there will be some smaller plots depending on demand.
She said four of the plots are already spoken for so there are another dozen or so available to rent.
She said the local horticultural society and some service clubs are interested in participating in the community garden as well.
They are working on a communications plan, but in the meantime organizers can be reached at email@example.com.
“We want to see this succeed,” Goff said.
“Nothing builds community like a community garden.”