By Ian Ferguson
What started as a “grow your own food” project idea has turned into a thriving community garden. The idea was forged in May between Carman Sim of the Country Gardens Greenhouse and Jaclyn Berry of the Ponoka Jubilee Library. The idea later turned into a community project when Jaclyn was looking for a space to put the garden. “There’s that big empty lot behind the library,” explained Berry, “Could we put it there?” The vacant lot behind the library is owned by the town, therefore she had to ask for their permission. “If they said no, it would have ended right there, but they were really on board with it.”
Since then, the community garden has grown thanks to help from volunteers and many donations. Local stores like No Frills, Maverick Supplies, Integra Tire and Home Hardware have all donated supplies needed to build and fill the garden, not to mention the many volunteers who brought their own seeds to plant. The town itself has also lent a big hand in providing care for the garden, most notably water and soil for the plants. “We always appreciate the volunteers” added Berry, “There is really good support from the community. If the Library had to pay for all of it, it wouldn’t have happened; the budget just couldn’t support it.” Some of the plants in the garden include onions, kale, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, herbs and many flowers. The community garden is open for anyone to utilize at any time.
The garden has held up well against the numerous storms that have hit Ponoka as well as the recent heat wave, says Jaclyn. “Many people I know lost plants, but not us.” She also explained how it hasn’t run into insect or animal problems thus far. “So far the deer haven’t found it; we’ll see how long that lasts,” she said with a chuckle. The garden has been well received by people throughout the community. “Some people on their breaks from work go back there just to enjoy it,” elaborated Berry, “Maybe we’ll get some benches in, so you can sit out there and read a book.”
When asked about how long the garden is planned to be open, Jaclyn responded, “As long as we have the space and as long as there are people who want to use it.” The garden is closed during the winter for obvious reasons, but when the weather heats up again, the Ponoka Jubilee Library plans to start it back up. All food harvested from the community garden goes to the Ponoka Food Bank, continued Berry, “It seems only right to donate the food back to the community.” Many seeds planted were donated by various businesses and individuals throughout Ponoka.
The Jubilee Library encourages anyone to participate in growing the garden. In regards to the garden Jaclyn stated, “Built by the community, for the community.” The Ponoka Community Garden will be harvested in the fall, leaving plenty of time to pick out some seeds and join in on the “green thumb” fun, or simply read a book in the sun with a lovely view. The Ponoka Jubilee Library is located at 5110 on 48 Ave next door to the Town Hall; the Community Garden can be found right behind these buildings.