Plans for community garden coming along

FORT FRANCES—While plans for a community garden here still are in preliminary stages, Clover Valley Farmers’ Market agri-food marketing intern Josh Phillips is excited about the project.
“There are a variety of groups who have tried to get a community garden up and running, but they always run into a problem that stops them dead in their tracks,” noted Phillips, who has been working with the idea.
“But I’m really confident this time round,” he added.
Phillips said they plan to use the land behind the farmers’ market (located on McIrvine Road in Fort Frances), adding they are close to securing some local funds to assist with building the garden.
“We hope, hope, hope that it will be up and running and ready to be rented out to the public in the spring of next year,” he remarked.
Phillips said the way a community garden usually support itself is once it is built, plots within the garden are rented to whoever desires them, whether it be an organization, group, or individual.
“It’s our aim that once it gets constructed that we can rent out space to perhaps the Sunset Country Métis, the Horticultural Society, the Substance Abuse Prevention Team, the Northwestern Health Unit, 4-H Club, United Native Friendship Centre, Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists, and the ‘Get Outdoors’ Club,” he noted.
Although still working out the logistics, Phillips would like to see, for instance, an outreach group rent out the plot and use it for their own therapy or to get kids involved in a project like growing food.
Then they could sell the food they’ve grown at the farmers’ market and, ideally, the income generated would cover the cost of rental of the space, plus some additional funds for the group.
The money collected by the Clover Valley Farmers’ Market for the rental plots would go to maintain and improve the community garden.
“It’s a great business model that has been put into place in different communities all over the place,” Phillips remarked. “It seems, very specifically in Fort Frances, people consistently run up against difficulties, but I think it would be great.”
It’s also been suggested to make the community garden an ecological tourism site, with rain barrels and solar panels on the roof.
“So the gardens would be watered with rain water collected from the roof and the pump would be powered by solar power,” he explained, noting there’s always a surplus of suggestions and ideas.
“If anyone wanted to participate in this project, I would be ecstatic if they wanted to contact me to donate time or labour in building it or materials they could lend,” said Phillips.
“Or if this is a service they’d like to use in the spring, if they wanted to rent a plot of land for the season, that would be fantastic,” he added.
Rental prices have not been discussed yet as they need the funding before they can plan the design and develop the budget.
They plan to work with a local woman who has designed gardens in other communities.
“It promotes agriculture because it would give people without necessarily a space a location to go,” said Phillips.
“And it would be a kind of community gathering place, which would improve the farmers’ market property and maybe draw a few more people out,” he added, noting it also could service as one more tourist attraction.
“It seems there’s already people behind the idea of a community garden, it’s just a matter of getting it put together,” Phillips stressed.
“I’m really, really stoked about getting this going.”
For more information, contact Phillips at 482-3983.
(Fort Frances Times)