The Sackville Community Garden is an oasis away from the day to day grind of life. As you step under the arbor, you feel like you have stepped into a different world. Surrounded by lush meadow, framed by colorful, cheerful flowers, you come upon two rows of what look like cute rectangular sandboxes; they are in fact individual garden plots.
At the end of the two rows is a little shed that houses all the garden tools and equipment. As you work on your individual plot, pulling out weeds, you hear the long horn of the train as it rushes by, and you wonder what the passengers must be thinking as they catch a glimpse of a gardener in her element. After you have filled a bucket full of weeds, you walk out to the compost behind the shed and you are startled by an astonished grouse that, with a surprised squawk takes flight on its clumsy wings.
For people who garden, gardening is a reward in itself. The act of gardening brings cohesion and harmony amongst people. For example, the garden plays a role in working with other community groups like Daybreak and Tantramar Family Resource Centre. Both these groups have plots in the garden. Fresh vegetables arrive mid-July and do not stop until early October. The vegetables are a reward for the hard work and dedication it takes to garden.
The garden has made a commitment to organic gardening practices. No synthetic pesticides or fertilizers are used and the seeds planted are organic. This presents an opportunity to support local businesses like Anderson’s Greenhouse–a local greenhouse that sells Maritime organic seeds. The garden also places an emphasis on growing local food that can thrive in the Tantramar area.
The community garden could not run properly without a competent and dedicated garden coordinator. This year, Sackville’s Community Garden Coordinator was Mel Jellett. I asked Mel a few questions about the community garden.
NAM: What do you find most valuable about a community garden?
MJ: A community garden provides a space for people to learn about growing food and for them to connect with nature.
NAM: What do you like most about your job?
MJ: Getting a chance to interact with a myriad of people on a regular basis, from plot renters who range in age, gender, background and so on to the community groups we work with.
NAM: What do you think we can learn from community gardens?
MJ: We can learn a lot about food security: being able to produce our own food without relying on others to produce it for us.
The Sackville Community Garden shares space with an organization called Community Forests International. They have a permaculture garden. The permaculture garden is based on the concept of a guild where mutually beneficial insects and plants are grouped together. This act of coming together enhances all the species in the guild.
The permaculture garden is composed of an apple guild, a community of beneficial plants and insects formed around a central apple tree. The plants and insects in the apple guild provide many services to each other. For example, deep-rooted plants reach into groundwater supplies and supply water for other plants in the guild ecosystem. Other plants, such as yarrow, bring in beneficial insects, that pollinate our crops and eat pests.
Community Forests International has a native forest garden that is also a guild. The garden is composed of food-producing forest plants found in New Brunswick’s native Acadian forest. The forest garden includes Wild Rose, Wild Raisin, Elder Berry, Ostrich Fern, and Butternut, to name a few.
The Sackville Community Garden, the permaculture garden and the native forest garden are gems in this little town of Sackville. They provide educational, scenic and functional value to the residents here. Consider starting a community garden in your town or city!
The Sackville Community Garden is located on Charles Street in Sackville, New Brunswick. Contact the Sackville Community Garden by email at: Sackvillecommunitygarden [at] gmail [dot] com. Find their Facebook group, the Sackville Community Garden on Facebook or visit their blog at: http://sackvillecommunitygarden.blogspot.com/
*With contributions with contributions from Mel Jellett, Sackville Community Garden Coordinator and Estelle Dridelle, Community Forests International.
Najat Abdou-McFarland writes for the NB Media Co-op.