Because gardens are for peas and love.
Because gardens are for peas and love.
Marlene Wurfel attended the 2015 Edmonton Federation of Community League’s Showcase Gala this summer to accept a spotlight award on behalf of the Parkallen Community Garden and the Parkallen Community League.
The all-ages gardening projects at the Parkallen Community Garden were 1 of 5 outstanding projects showcased by the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues at their gala. The showcase included a story by CTV News’ Dez Melenka.
It’s that time of year: Parkallen Gardeners: Start your seeds! Brent has special-ordered seeds from North Carolina where the PuckerButt Pepper Company claims to have cultivated the hottest pepper ever grown in the history of the world. Of course we’re willing to swap seedlings this Spring. What are you growing?
We’re on eggshells over here waiting for them to germinate… Hope it’s not too corny of me to ask… but will you grow some extra of whatever you’re starting this year for the Parkallen Community Garden? If everyone grows a tomato plant or two, we won’t have to buy any. And, if you’d like to try something exotic like eggplant or … canteloupe … the PCG has sunshine to spare.
Isn’t it gorgeous? I think so. It’s a dry fall though, so remember to lug a watering can full of water from the rain barrels to our thirsty veggies when you can. The rain barrels are behind the shed against the hall.
Also, if you see a nice big artichoke, please take it home and introduce it to some melted butter.
Last year’s giant pumpkin was so beloved that we’ve planted another Big Max variety. The pumpkin seedling arrived at the PCG this spring in a baby stroller, of course. Double-wide, of course.
She has her own bed of organic soil at the PCG. No chemicals are ever used to make Maxine big — just a large growing variety in healthy soil.
Will she outweigh the kids and the woman who planted her? Time will tell. Visit Maxine this summer and fall at the Parkallen Community Garden.
Since I’ve been directing the Parkallen Sprouts and the Parkallen Community Garden, I’ve been getting a new look from some of my neighbours that I didn’t used to – it’s one that signifies intense garden-related-guilt.
“No, Marlene,” they tell me when I drop by their homes, “please don’t look at my garden. It’s so full of weeds…”
Or, “The community garden looks wonderful this year and I feel so badly that I didn’t make it out even once. Maybe next year…” they sadly say with nothing at all resembling hope in their voices.
The theme is guilt, shame, and missed opportunity. Parkallen – the thing with gardens is that what you cultivate in them tends to grow. Are you cultivating guilt, shame and regret in your garden? Are you cultivating these things in our community garden? Stop it!
The Parkallen Community Garden is a permaculture project and one important element of permaculture is “obtain a yield.” That means the focus is on “getting from” a garden, not simply “putting in” for the sake of effort itself. In an ideal permaculture space, nothing is required from the gardener other than strolling through a beautiful green space, replenishing one’s self while filling a basket with healthy produce. The aim isn’t toiling but taking. The permaculturist always strives to let the soil, the sun and the rain do as much of the work as possible because their space has been planned from the onset to perform in that way. That’s why, for example, the Parkallen Community Garden has swales dug into the slope towards the hockey rink: so the garden can catch and store rain and melt water all on its own. Maximum yield for minimum effort is the end-goal. Parkallen Community Gardeners have been putting in effort to cultivate what’s been growing in the garden but, ultimately, probably less than you think. We’re striving to create a self-regulating space that gives more than it demands.
I heeded quite a few warnings when the Parkallen Community Garden was in the planning stages as a communally tended space that everybody would show up at harvest time to take but nobody would be willing to put in the effort. The reverse has tended to be true. We’re civilized people: We’ve read the “The Little Red Hen.” People are reluctant to take from the garden because they don’t feel they’ve put in the requisite effort.
My neighbor who regretted not visiting the garden that season could have walked straight there, picked enough for a dinner salad, marveled at the sunflowers, listened to the birds, tossed a dandelion into the weed bucket, tasted the mint, smooched a loved one in the sunshine, called it a season, and left. But she didn’t feel entitled. She hadn’t put enough in to take that much out. It is my sincerest wish that the Parkallen Community Garden be a place you take more from than you give. It would help me in achieving my yield from the garden – the reward and satisfaction of knowing that I’ve helped create a space in my community that replenishes, teaches, feeds and gives; not one that requires more from time-crunched urbanites than they can reasonably afford.
One of the reasons I love working with kids in the garden so much is that they have absolutely zero compunction with proudly digging up an armful of potatoes for dinner even though they were swinging on the monkey bars while someone’s mom took twenty minutes in the spring to hill the seed potatoes into the soil. Really, they can teach me as much, or possibly more, about healthy relationships to food as I can teach them.
What’s your relationship with your garden? Do you think of it as a place that demands more from you than you can give each season? Do you think of it as a place that should demand more than it yields? Why? Would it benefit you to re-evaluate your relationship with your green spaces?
People aren’t for gardens; gardens are for people. Gardens are for feeding people, for relaxing people, for inspiring people and for replenishing people. A space that inspires guilt instead of satisfaction is not a well-designed green space.
So pretty please, Parkallen, if you’ve been scattering the seeds of guilt and shame in our community garden, or in your own gardens, just stop. Stop watering the guilt. Stop fertilizing the shame. Stop. Re-evaluate. Let’s cultivate something beautiful.
Our garden is so lush and productive. It is gorgeous to look at, tasty to harvest from, and so very easy to hand pull weeds out of the loamy soil in which the edible vegetables we planted are thriving.
The lasagne gardening technique we deployed to build the soil is clearly a raging success. Building our own soil from freely obtained mulch proved economical (we saved thousands of dollars), easy (oh, we sweated, but not as much as we would have scraping away the sod and piling truckloads of bought topsoil on top of it then fighting off the grass that would have come back this spring), and so effective (fertile, organic, exquisitely healthy soil!)
As you’ve probably heard, we’ve caught the eye of some granting and awards panels who will be touring our garden this week on Wednesday and Friday. We had a hearty work bee tonight during which we fought back some vegetation off the pathways, trimmed the grass around the garden, leveled our mulch and compost piles, and planted a beautiful apple tree with 5 zone hardy branches grafted on it, a plum, and a beaked hazelnut shrub. What a productive evening.
We also slapped several thousand mosquitoes, so if you visit the garden, please wear bug protection. All that rain has the mosquitoes thriving too.
For the rest of the summer until harvest time and Shedtemberfest (stay tuned for more details) we’re sitting pretty. When you visit the garden, please focus on any of the following tasks:
As always, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to join us or with your good ideas.
Inch by inch,
Director, Parkallen Sprouts
Last spring, 2011, we started with this:
A big swath of lawn, a bail of hay, a stack of cardboard, some muscle, and a vision. This spring we have this:
An all-ages community garden with lots of room to grow.
Our lasagne gardening was a success. Without tilling the earth, we built a large tract of healthy soil using compost layering techniques.
We ordered some materials (local field-stones, road-crush and mulch) to give shape to the garden. Thanks to a Fido/Evergreen grant, we had funding to create four children’s gardening beds at the center of the Parkallen Community Garden. A crew assembled this spring to ready the beds for the children to plant.
We dug trenches around the beds to collect water and provide shape.
Then we filled them with road crush. The crush-filled trenches around the beds provided a stable place for rock borders. The rocks provide thermal mass to warm the soil.
We muscled rocks into place around the four beds.
This is Tom. Tom is what you’d call an “active senior.”
Ready to plant.
Well done, crew.
Don’t forget the “interpretive programming.”
And a proud sign:
We’ve had incredible momentum this Spring.
It’s NOT too late to get involved in this exciting permaculture project. The Parkallen Diggers are actively recruiting new members to be part of our casual and/or core gardening group.
We need master gardeners and newbies. We need compost turners and watering can luggers. We need a fruit tree tender and shrub lover. We need people to turn on a sprinkler when it’s stinking hot and people to tip-toe down the edible perennial border looking for ripe strawberries. We want hammer swingers, pea-munchers and turnip pullers. Whatever your age, expertise, and commitment levels, you are invited to participate in making this unique green space grow.
It’s harvest time and we’re celebrating with a Parkallen Community Harvest Potluck at the Parkallen Hall.
Parkallenians of all ages are welcome. Bring a dish that features something you grew, wild harvested, or purchased from a local, sustainable source like a vendor at the farmer’s market or Eat Local First.
The potluck meal is at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, September 23rd.
The Parkallen Community Garden is not productive yet — the soil is still under construction under layers of mulch. We are looking forward to planting fruit trees, strawberries, and maybe some shrubs this fall before the snow falls. So don’t put away your shovels yet!
Community input is welcome in designing the decorative, southfacing border of the Parkallen Community Garden over coffee and desert at the Fall Harvest Potluck.
Dessert/coffee/design from 7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 23rd at the Parkallen Hall.
Meet other Parkallen gardeners, learn more about the Parkallen Community Garden, have fun and celebrate fall.