Embracing Community Gardening at Alex Decoteau Park

I’ve never had much of a green thumb. I barely remember to water my house plants, and the container gardens I’ve had in the summer on our balcony have never thrived.

However, when the chance to sign up for a plot in our new Downtown Community Garden came up in the spring, Mack and I did so. Located in Alex Decoteau Park that opened last fall at 102 Avenue and 105 Street, the garden is among several amenities that have been welcomed by residents, including a dog park, spray park, and green space.

Alex Decoteau Park

Alex Decoteau Park

The desire for plots ended up being so high that the Downtown Edmonton Community League (which coordinates the garden) had to resort to a lottery system to pick from the applicants. When we found out we were selected in the first round, we had to decide whether to accept.

Emily was the primary reason we had initially put our names forward. Knowing where our food comes from is important to us, and we were attracted to the idea that she could learn first hand how vegetables are grown. Still, with a new baby in the house, I thought the last thing I’d want to do this year is tend to a plot, especially since we are such novice gardeners.

But giving up our chance this year might have meant being waitlisted for an unknown period, so we took the plunge. It helped too that the garden has a number of great features – most of the beds are raised, the garden itself is fenced in and locked (with a code shared only with gardeners), and there is water provided on site!

We consulted with my Mum, gardener extraordinaire, for her recommendations on the most low maintenance vegetables to grow that wouldn’t require too much attention, and could stand being neglected now and then. She advised that we look to root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, garlic, and kale. Friends of ours who have more experience with gardening also snagged a plot, and started some plants from seed which they transplanted for us, adding tomatoes and ground cherries to our roster.

Alex Decoteau Park Garden

Seeded!

Though we didn’t know if anything would grow, soon enough, promising green shoots appeared. The kale in particular blossomed with the constant exposure to the sun, and our garlic thrived. The tomatoes, which we thought couldn’t be saved after being ravaged by a wicked wind storm, bounced back. We learned though, a little too late, that we shouldn’t have planted the carrots quite so close to the kale, as the leaves quickly overshadowed the later-blooming carrot tops.

Alex Decoteau Park Garden

Progress

Early on, I thought the last thing I’d want to do after putting Emily down for the night was go water some plants, but it’s become a calming, almost meditative way to end the day. And though we’ve only been able to harvest kale so far, it’s been pretty neat to be able to walk over and cut down some fresh vegetables for a quick salad or to add to our meal.

Alex Decoteau Park Garden

Growing like weeds!

So although we started off as reluctant gardeners this year, it’s safe to say we’re looking forward to learning from our missteps this year and being more thoughtful with our plant selections for next spring!

Alex Decoteau Park Garden

First time gardeners

If you’re interested in learning more about the Alex Decoteau Garden, consider coming to the open house, scheduled for Saturday, July 21, 2018, from 10am-3pm. There will be kids garden crafts, and you can help yourself to some of the vegetables being grown in the community plot!

City Market Report: Week 18 (plus Cornfest!)

We were blessed with another beautiful market day on Saturday, which always feels fortunate the later in the year that we get. Shoppers were our enjoying the sunshine at the City Market, though I wasn’t one of them myself!

City Market 2012

Beautiful day

I was volunteering for Downtown Edmonton Community League’s Cornfest (more on that later), so Mack did the shopping and the picture snapping this week.

City Market 2012

Beets at Sundog Organic

City Market 2012

Kale at Sundog Organic

City Market 2012

Assorted squash at Riverbend Gardens

City Market 2012

Peach display at Steve & Dan’s

City Market 2012

Lovely fruit basket from Steve & Dan’s

I did stop by the Fork and Spoon Brigade about halfway through my shift, to satiate myself with one of their hearty breakfast in a bowls.

City Market 2012

Eggs, potatoes, bacon and cheese – how can one go wrong with that combination?

Over at Beaver Hills House Park on 105 Street and Jasper Avenue, my community league had organized our annual harvest tradition of Cornfest. Although this event has preceded the city-wide Community League Day, in the last few years, we now plan for it to coincide with that date.

Cornfest 2012

We love #yegdt!

Sobeys on 104 Street had generously donated the corn, which we cooked and handed out for free. I didn’t think to count the boxes before, but needless to say, we shucked A LOT of corn.

City Market 2012

Shucking corn

For whatever reason, it wasn’t as busy as last year, when we ran out of corn about an hour earlier than expected. But those who did come out seemed to enjoy themselves all the same!

Cornfest 2012

Steaming hot corn

Cornfest 2012

Enjoying corn

There were also children’s activities, with corn husk doll-making lessons, a Downtown in Bloom awards ceremony, and opportunities for people to pick up their community league membership for 2013. But if you missed us, DECL will be at the City Market again on September 22, 2012 with a membership sales table.

Cornfest 2012

Laurissa shows off her corn husk doll

Cornfest 2012

MLA Laurie Blakeman hands out Downtown in Bloom awards

Cornfest 2012

Chris mans the membership table

Hope you enjoyed your community league activities as well!

City Market Report: Week 18 (plus Corn Fest!)

I suppose this really isn’t a City Market report so much as it is a recap about Corn Fest, Downtown Edmonton Community League’s annual fall event run in conjunction with Edmonton Federation of Community League’s city-wide Community League Day.

Corn Fest 2011

Corn Fest

Over 100 community leagues organized events for today, which ranged from barbecues, potlucks, carnivals, garage sales and pet pampering – I hope you had the chance to check out the activities in your neighbourhood!

DECL has offered Corn Fest for a number of years, but starting aligning the date with Community League Day last year. It serves up free corn with a side of salsa dancing.

Corn Fest 2011

Corn!

I had taken in Corn Fest last year, but this was my first time being on the other side. Set-up went pretty smoothly, and we had plenty of time to shuck the corn before our 11am start time.

Corn Fest 2011

Laurissa was a shucking machine!

Corn Fest 2011

Lindsey and Ian

The weather was overcast for most of the day, cool but not cold, and all in all, a great day for a hot cob of corn. Crowds were steady, but a rush of people late in the afternoon meant we ended up running out of corn early – we ran through about 450 ears of corn!

Corn Fest 2011

We need more corn!

Corn Fest 2011

Mack and Jon enjoy their corn

It’s amazing how transformational music is – as soon as the salsa music came on, people started wandering into Beaver Hills House Park to check out what was happening. Even when no one was utilizing the square to dance, it created a festive, warm atmosphere. The couples that did eventually descend on the dance floor were a treat to watch!

Corn Fest 2011

Just dance

MLA Laurie Blakeman was also around today to hand out the Downtown in Bloom awards. Congrats to all of the winners!

Corn Fest 2011

MLA Laurie Blakeman and Scott

There was a lot going on in that area today: the folks behind the Alley of Light were doing chalk art in the alley with children, and there was a performance on the corner of 105 Street and Jasper.

Corn Fest 2011

Walk the chalk

Corn Fest 2011

Performance art

And of course, there was the market! Because I was busy volunteering, Mack was responsible for picking up the groceries this week, so just a few photos here and there today.

Sundog Organics

Beautiful garlic from Sundog Organic Farm

Sundog Organics

Beets from Sundog Organic Farm

Sundog Organics

Pumpkins from Sundog Organic Farm

Greens, Eggs and Ham

Baby corn from Greens, Eggs and Ham

Hope you had a good Saturday as well!