MRU Community Garden keeps growing

Since spring 2010, a group of volunteer members from the Community Garden Association (CGA) have tended a small plot of land near the East Residences.

CGA year-end tomato harvest
And some say it's hard growing tomatoes in Alberta!

Their efforts have reaped an assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers.

The fruits of the group's labour was on display last week (Oct. 13) at the Garden Harvest Party, which was held on the second floor of Wyckham House.

Alana-Dawn Eirikson, Sustainability Centre coordinator for the Students' Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU) says that the number of individuals involved has grown steadily over the CGA's first year but hopes to see those numbers continue to grow.

"We really want to get people excited about the garden … so that we can broaden our community and expand the garden site," says Eirikson.

"Anyone can get involved and we could use more faculty and staff involvement."

Some of the fruits and vegetables that the Association harvested on the weekend prior to the Garden Harvest Party were on display at the event including a salsa made from the tomatoes they grew and more.

CGA volunteers
Community Garden Association volunteers.

Can't go wrong with free food

The cornucopia of fruits and vegetables that the volunteer members harvest each summer are all free for them to take home.

"We need to work on building a sense of community around the garden," she says.

"People feel a little bit funny about taking free food even though they volunteer for it."

The garden is still developing and the original intent of the project strived to include community partners that are neighbours to Mount Royal.

But, instead of reaching out to the community at large too soon, Eirikson says the CGA decided to develop it within the campus community first to establish a good foundation before heading off campus.

"For example, right now the area is not very accessible so we're hoping to engage individuals who want to help us address those kinds of issues in planning for future expansion," Eirikson says.

More than anything Eirikson says the Association wants people to have fun with it.

Some of the things they grow :

- Sunflowers, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, kale, squash, strawberries, beets, different types of lettuces

If you wish to be a part of the Community Garden Association, please contact Alana-Dawn Eirikson at 8779.

"It's just nice to be outside … it's cool to see things grow.

"There's really no limits in terms of programming and the types of things we can do with the garden," says Eirikson.

"Like whether it's having gardening workshops or having it tied to coursework academically."

- Fred Cheney, Oct. 20, 2011