BARRHEAD – The future of the Barrhead Community Garden is in jeopardy.
If the non-profit organization running the garden fails to find a suitable location (and relatively quickly) after this growing season, it could cease to exist.
For the past nine years, the garden has called a five-acre lot on the west side of town, just north of the apartment buildings on 53rd Street.
However, Community Garden Society treasurer Marilyn Flock said the property owner informed them that after this year they will have to find a new location.
For the past few years, she said, the company has been aware that it’s been living on borrowed time and has already researched potential alternative sites.
“We have a few ideas, but unfortunately they all fell through,” Flock said.
The garden is located on what is commonly called the Terres de Schneider. Several years ago, the city purchased the property and an adjacent parcel (about nine acres in total) to build a new aquatic center.
But when the municipality decided to build the new pool on the old site, the city began to focus its efforts on commercial development of the property. In October 2020, the municipality sold a three-acre parcel of the Schnieder lands, specifically the part on which the garden is located.
In the summer of 2018, the city gave the Community Garden until spring to move. After extending it for another year, the deal ended in November 2020.
The municipality deemed the move necessary after deciding to step up its efforts to develop the property, hiring Edmonton real estate company Cushman and Wakefield to market it.
In December 2018, councilors voted 6 to 1 for the City of Barrhead to enter into a 10-year agreement for the use of a two-acre parcel of undeveloped land at the intersection of 50th Avenue and West Road Boundary in the southwest corner of Beaver Brook. Areas. The offer was later rescinded.
The municipality also suggested a location in Millennium Park, but that never got beyond the preliminary stages. Part of the problem was that nearby residents started an informal petition against moving the garden there, partly out of fear that it would attract crime.
“We checked all the land bordering the outskirts of town and some places in town, and so far nothing has materialized,” Flock said. “It’s been frustrating. If anyone has any ideas, or better yet, a suitable location, we’d love to help out.”
Flock noted that currently the garden has about 70 members who cultivate about 55 plots. She added that the community garden also had a long waiting list of people wanting plots.
“If we lose the community garden, it would be a big loss for the community,” she said.
Every year, Flock said, community gardeners donate hundreds of pounds of fresh produce to the Barrhead Food Bank, which sits above the designated plots.
“Barrhead Primary School Years 1 and 4 classes are also frequent visitors and we give talks and tours. There is a lot to learn in a garden,” she said, adding that seniors and arts groups are also frequent visitors.
Flock noted that the importance of the garden had increased with the pandemic, as public health restrictions limited the activities people could do.
“Gardens are very good for emotional development and help people who may have mental health issues,” she said.
Ideally, she said they were hoping to find a suitable site (about two acres, to allow for the garden plots and room for parking) in town or just on the outskirts of town, noting that many garden patrons walk or ride a bike.
“Many don’t even have a car,” she said, adding that they were also looking for someone willing to sign a long-term lease of 10 years or more because society doesn’t want to end up in the same situation in a year. or two.
The uncertainty surrounding the garden’s future has limited its ability to plan for the future.
“Going from year to year also makes it difficult to apply for grants and do a lot of the long-term work that we would like to do,” she said, adding that it would also take several years to build the soil of a new location to make it as productive as possible.
As for what will happen to the company if it doesn’t find a new location for next year, Flock said she has time.
“The garden should take a break until we find a new location, but we have five years to get back up and running,” she said, adding that after that the company would eventually dissolve and its assets would go to the Barrhead Food Bank.
But Flock is confident that with the help of the community it won’t come to this, adding that she thinks the garden has a bright future.
If anyone has any suggestions or potential land that would be suitable for a community garden, contact Flock at 780-305-4317 or email [email protected]