The City of Selkirk is on the lookout for green thumbs, or even those that desire to be green, to plant their own gardens in the Water Tower Community Garden.
The gardens were previously run by Rene Gauthier and the Soup Kitchen, in cooperation with Growing Years Family Resource Centre, on city-owned land located beside the water tower.
That program came to an end and the gardens were not used last summer. The City of Selkirk has partnered with Communities in Bloom, Selkirk Home Hardware, The Flower Child and the Selkirk Record to give the gardens life once again.
Bringing the community together
Mayor Larry Johannson said he’s happy to see the space being put to good use.
“What I really like about the community gardens is that they really do grow community,” Johannson said.
“Right now, before a single seed has been planted, they’ve already brought together people from several groups who want to work together for the betterment of their city. Our people are always our best resource, and when they come together on a project that will enable people to grow some of their own food it shows how connected and strong Selkirk really is.”
Taylor Gyselinck, a Communities in Bloom member and owner of The Flower Child greenhouse located each spring in the Home Hardware parking lot, said she’s excited to be part of the gardens’ rebirth and thinks their potential is limitless.
There are 28 raised beds available to the community to plant their own gardens, and it’s on a first come, first served basis.
“This year we’re going to try to gauge the interest people have and see where we go from there,” Gyselinck said.
“If we can expand it and put more raised beds in eventually, or, if they are really popular, it would be great if we could have another community garden in another area of the city next year or the year after.”
There is no charge to use the community garden and the produce you grow is yours to keep.
Gyselinck said it’s impressive the city is offering the plots for free when most communities charge residents to use city-owned land for gardens.
“An environmental plus”
Ruth Rolfe, the city’s Manager of Parks and Recreation Facilities, said Selkirk’s Downtown Renewal Strategy encourages higher density housing options and the community gardens allow people to live in a vibrant downtown and still be able to grow their own food and get outside to tend their garden.
“We’re pushing for higher density housing in Selkirk and I think the community gardens help play a role in that strategy,” Rolfe said.
“We’re increasing our population in a smaller space, we’re not spreading out, and I think the gardens really help achieve that goal.”
Michelle Balharry, a Selkirk Record ad consultant and CiB member, said though the city continues to perform well in the annual CiB competition – this year scoring a 5 Bloom Bronze rating – the judges were disappointed there was no community garden this year.
“The judges had seen the gardens in the past and were impressed, so when they weren’t part of this year’s judging tour, it didn’t go unnoticed,” Balharry said.
“Bringing them back was definitely a judge’s recommendation.”
The gardens are an environmental plus all on their own but Gyselinck wants to include on-site composting to turn up the green even more. And, she would love to incorporate a learning component, for composting and growing, for youth or anyone who doesn’t have a skill set in either.
“I was very fortunate, I’ve always had plants around me and had fresh vegetables to eat and always known where tomatoes come from and where cucumbers come from and how to grow them. A lot of people don’t,” she said.
There’s a big focus on food to table and grow your own, she said, and teaching kids about their food now pays dividends in the future.
Developing our natural features & outdoor spaces
The Water Tower Community Gardens align with the city’s Strategic Plan in numerous ways, from creating a vibrant, safe and healthy community through continued development of Selkirk’s natural features and outdoor spaces and revitalizing downtown; to being environmental stewards and protecting the natural features and resources that are important to the community by helping citizens make good choices.
To sign up and reserve your community garden spot, call 204-785-4950 or email [email protected]
The deadline to register is April 1, and remember, it’s first come, first served, so don’t wait and risk disappointment. Plots will be assigned after May 1.
There is no cost to use the garden plot, but donations to Communities in Bloom are greatly appreciated. F