By Lawrence Powell
Most people wouldn’t envision a thriving community garden out behind the Legion in Annapolis Royal. The space is just the concrete remains of an old barn in a square that looks like a gravelly, weed-filled parking lot.
But Angelika Waldow doesn’t see what is – she sees what could be. The same with Nina Newington and a few others who have scratched out grant applications to transform the Legion’s backyard into a fertile oasis of sustainable food production.
Last Thursday there was enough progress that the partners came together to officially launch the Annapolis Community Garden and Orchard Project, a joint effort between the Legion and the Annapolis Living and Learning Institute.
Bruce Gurnham organized the project launch in front of a small crowd assembled between piles of soil, stacks of lumber, and the first three of six raised beds that will make up the main part of the garden.
“The program will help people to get outside, get active and learn about growing healthy food,” said Gurnham. “People of all ages will be able to work together as a team. The goal is to make healthy food choices accessible to all people and establish a sustainable green community space.”
Waldow is the garden and orchard project coordinator, and after admitting she wasn’t much of a public speaker, won the crowd over on her enthusiasm alone – not to mention her ideas and convictions.
The community garden also includes an edible tree project that will grow an orchard of heritage apple trees, peach trees, and nut trees, and the high perimeter fence will be draped with vines loaded down with berries.
Waldow sees the garden as not just a way to grow food in a sustainable way, but an opportunity for social interaction, teaching, and the chance to learn. Doug Dockrill was at the garden launch and is a strong proponent of community kitchens. Waldow likes that idea and sees much potential. With the proximity of the Legion, there’s the opportunity to use produce from the garden to teach cooking, healthy eating, and food preservation. There’s even talk of getting a cider press.
Waldow hopes the project in Annapolis Royal will be an inspiration to other communities.
There was no gold-plated shovel for Legion president Martin Field as he helped Waldow and Newington ceremoniously plant the first apple tree in the corner of the garden lot. The round-mouthed shovel Field picked up spoke of sweat, hard work, dirt, and determination.
The nearby raised beds are made from tamarack from the French Shore. It’s a wood that is tough and durable – and means the project didn’t have to use pressure-treated lumber. And the beds are at wheelchair height making the project accessible for seniors and disabled people who can sit down to do their gardening.
The community garden project team is made up of Waldow, Newington, Field, Dockrill, Kathy Dudka and Legion members, and Kevin MacLean. “And the many neighbours, friends, and community members and businesses that are actively endorsing our project,” said Gurnham.
Financial supporters include the Walmart Evergreen Program, Tree Canada: The Edible Tree Program by Loblaws; Annapolis Community Health Board, and TD Friends of the Environment.
Les Smith finished the formal part of the evening by singing Garden Song by David Mallett and made famous by Pete Seeger: “Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow…”