Young employees greatly enhance the community garden

In photo, left to right, is Linda Willson, Tobi Madrigal Brown, Peggy Brown and Luke Heinen.

GORDON – The work that has taken place at the Western Manitoulin Community Garden (WMCG) has been greatly enhanced by two young employees this summer who were hired through funding provided through the Canada Summer Jobs Program. 

Tobi Madrigal Brown and Luke Heinen were brought on board this summer to help with the ever-growing community garden thanks to this government funding program. Volunteer Peggy Brown is supervising and working with the two youngsters at least four hours a day and is pleased with the work being carried out by the two young men. 

“It’s been a lot of fun,” stated Mr. Brown. “Especially since we are working outside instead of inside.”

Mr. Heinen acknowledged, “it has been fun, and I am learning a lot.”
“These guys have been very active this summer, even in July when it was extremely hot they continued to work and they have accomplished a lot,” said Linda Willson, a WMCG board member. “They started on July 6 and have been doing an awesome job. You can see how much the garden has improved over the years and how much better it has been with the two student workers, Tobi and Luke, on hand this summer.” She pointed out that on behalf of WMCG she has completed another application for an extension to have Luke continue work in the garden this fall.

Ms. Brown said that during the hottest period of the summer, the young lads were working a half hour at a time and then taking a 10 minute rest.

They have been working on things like planting lettuce, cabbage and herbs. To provide an idea of what they have been accomplishing on a weekly basis, the students work from 8 am to 2 pm, Monday to Friday and their daily chores include: weeding, naming weeds and plants; watering; making sure the log book is completed by members and by workers; cleaning up tools and equipment and putting them away each day; and meeting and greeting members, reminding them to sign the log book for contact tracing and reviewing the 3Ws (wash hands, wear a mask and watch your distance). They also keep the sinks and work areas tidy and keep water tanks full while encouraging members to use them (providing better quality water dechlorinated water).

The two young men harvested 12 bunches of summer turnip for the Food Bank in Mindemoya and harvested 10 bunches of radishes for sale at the farmers’ market. They also completed and erected garden signs which “look great,” said Ms. Willson. “The boys learned about suckering tomatoes, thinned the Amarantha to 30 centimetres apart (it is growing well), learned how to use the wheel hoe, cleaned up weeks in the pumpkin patch and around the garden. They also tended the carrot crops and prepared a garden bed for planting lettuce.”

“I’m hoping we can get the program again next year,” said Ms. Willson. “The government is supporting the program this year and it is a success story. We are hoping that municipalities will see the benefits of this program and support it in the future. It has proven to be a success,” she said adding, “the province has defined community gardens as an essential service.”