The Cranbrook Public Produce (PPG) garden is now open to the public and has been deemed an essential service. The garden is open to all community members, with some modifications including new COVID-19 precautions which are posted at the garden.
The PPG operates on a shared-ownership model. Those who participate in using the community garden share the work and harvest freely.
The PPG provides the community with food, a gathering space, educational opportunities about growing food and opportunities for social connections.
Sophie Larsen of the Cranbrook Food Action Committee says “it’s a garden that grows gardeners.”
She adds that the goals of the garden are to teach people how to grow their own food and provide the space and tools to do so.
The CFAC has been around for over a decade, working on projects that improve food security for the community.
“CFAC was involved in getting the Cranbrook farmers’ market off the ground, has lead many workshops and has overseen the Cranbrook Public Produce Garden for the past eight years,” Larsen explained.
She says that this year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the garden and how it operates will look a little different.
The CFAC asks that people take turns in the garden, with an eight person maximum allowed in at one time and social distancing of six feet. The shed will also be locked so be sure to bring your own tools and gloves. It’s also asked that gardeners bring their own hand soap to wash up with, although the CFAC will try to keep the garden stocked. Ensure that you know what you have planted and where by putting up signs.
The CFAC also recently started a free seed program to help people continue to grow their own food, whether at home or at the community garden.
Meredeth Funston of the CFAC and Cranbrook Food Recovery says goal with this seed giveaway was to connect with and encourage the enthusiasm people feel around gardening and growing their own food.
“At Cranbrook Food Action Committee, we are dedicated to supporting local food security,” said Funston. “Some people will be growing greens in pots on their decks, some will be planting in huge garden plots. Every little bit counts. Growing food can be easy, but learning how to grow enough food to help support yourself or your community takes time.”
She adds that the CFAC is glad that so many people in the area want to start the learning process. The program just wrapped up their delivery and pickup of seeds. 118 people signed up with most participants from Cranbrook and some as far as from Elko.
The CFAC was able to give away greens, squash, potatoes, onions and herbs.
Funston says that the current crisis has inspired many people and spurred enthusiasm, which should be embraced.
“We really want to encourage people to keep growing,” she said. “We will continue to post videos on our Facebook site, and encourage any gardeners who have questions to connect with each other there. You can also connect with CFAC through email. We’d be happy to answer any questions that we can, or try and connect you with people who can. The Public Produce Garden is open to all (please read and observe posters with guidelines for garden use during COVID). It’s a great place to meet other gardeners (from a safe distance).”
In terms of gardening advice, Funston says it’s a good idea to do some research before you begin, especially for new gardeners.
“There’s a wealth of information online and it’s important to tailor your garden and plans to the specific zone in which you live,” Funston explained.
She also encourages new gardeners to stay positive and not get discouraged.
“It truly is a learning process so if it doesn’t work out how you expected the first time, don’t get discouraged. Keep building on what you learn. Most of all, we want to help people connect with us and with each other. Increasing food security is important for everyone, and can start with small steps at home. At the very least, it will give new gardeners an appreciation for our local farmers, who do this professionally.”
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