Garden Thymes

Peggy Brown 

Our Western Manitoulin Community Garden (WMCG) members are dreaming and looking forward to the coming of spring. We reviewed our WMCG five-year plan.

Year 1—2017: First, we found a tract of land donated by the McLaughlin family off Highway 540 just outside Gore Bay; ground was broken and prepared for new life.

Infrastructure was purchased: garden shed, compost structure, tools and equipment, seeds, perennial plants and an irrigation system. Solar fencing was also installed, which makes me happy, as my yard at home is a deer buffet. We established a ‘kids can grow’ (KCG) area and held workshops on gardening.

Year 2—2018: Individual garden plots established, the KCG garden coming along, a kite festival was held, extra produce was sold at the local farmers’ markets and the Good Food Box program or donated to the Rotary Fall Auction. More workshops were held about composting, Canada greenhouses and mushroom gardening.

Year 3—2019: I rented a plot at the WMCG for the first time. I came hoping to grow things near home where the deer would not eat everything. Those hopes were fulfilled. I also saw the KCG garden in action, with the kids from C.C. McLean out there working and learning and enjoying themselves at the garden. I saw the work that was done by volunteers and the enjoyment and helpful attitudes. 

That year we increased plot sizes to 10 by 20 and built an accessible area for raised beds up top off the highway, our only entrance. There was a second kite festival, thoroughly enjoyed by four of my grandchildren, and a Summer Garden Tour during Gore Bay’s Harbour Days. A perennial herb garden was established, a squash and pumpkin area developed, pollinator flowers planted, an area made for rhubarb and horseradish, the Good Food Box garden area was established, we started a windbreak and again there was extra produce for the Rotary Fall Auction, and a mushroom log workshop was held.

Year 4—2020: A quieter year for gatherings due to COVID-19. The kite festival was not held, but we held safe preserving workshops in the fall. We had a small asparagus harvest and hope for a bigger one in 2021. Individual gardens, more raised beds and our community food garden for food security programs continued. The summer employees added to the great work of our volunteers, continuing to build up and beautify the garden.

Year 5—2021: We are looking forward to: the kite festival, continuing with individual plots and raised beds, first harvests of rhubarb and horseradish, hosting an exchange of seeds, plants, flowers and vegetables. We will continue growing produce for the food programs. Our biggest goal is to build a pavilion for a shade shelter and vegetable preparation area. We also have a big demand for raised beds. And of course, the key is to have summer employees.

Contact Sarah Earley if you are interested in becoming a member of the community garden or have any ideas or suggestions: earleysarahjane@gmail.com or 705-210-0422.

Next month: Looking ahead to the following five years.