By Richard Bell
A small group of dedicated gardeners is in the final stages of launching a highly visible community garden on the triangular “park” in front of the Old School on Highway 7 in Musquodoboit Harbour.
“I first heard the idea in January from Samantha Holmes,” said Jude Major, one of the organizers, together with Holmes, Lorna George, Linda Parker, and Emma Kiley.
The group settled on the park after determining that the land belonged to the Department of Transportation. “There was a $300 fee for filing our application with DOT,” Major said. “We are grateful to MLA Kevin Murphy for helping us raise this start-up money.” The group just received a grant in February from the Eastern Shore Musquodoboit Community Health Board (See “21 Community Groups Win Wellness Funds” in this issue.)
The garden will feature 3x8ft raised beds for a small annual fee. “With raised beds, we’re not digging up any of the dirt that’s already there,” Major said. “We’ll be bringing in clean dirt from Kel-ann Organics, so we don’t have to worry about what’s in the ground now. Raised beds are easier to get to for seniors and people with disabilities. And with well-mulched raised beds, you don’t have to water. I’ve been farming commercially for 25 years with raised beds and I’ve never watered; I don’t even have an outside tap or a hose!”
Major said they would be using cinder blocks instead of wooden landscape ties. “Landscape ties are pressure-treated wood,” Major said, “and HRM regulations say you can’t use pressure-treated wood. Cinder blocks don’t rot, they retain heat, and they don’t encourage slugs like wood.” There will be wood planks on top of the cinder blocks to keep stuff out of the blocks and give gardeners a place to sit.
If all goes as planned, the cinder blocks and the dirt will arrive in April and people will get to work building the beds. “We’re already hearing from people who aren’t looking for a bed, they just want to volunteer,” Major said. “The garden will be a great gathering spot; there’s already some tall trees at one end of the triangle with a deck and some benches, and the Old School is right there.”
Major pointed out that the garden is also a demonstration of how communities can come together to grow more food locally and build community resilience. “We did our first community sign-up at the Farmers Market’s ‘Seedy Sunday.’ The Old School Gathering Place is our legal sponsor. And Uprooted is going to give us its vegetable scraps so we have a great source of compost.”