Interest in the Altona Community Garden continues to gain strength, and more plots will be available for rent this year as a result.
Jack Heppner explained, 12 additional plots are being created on the west side, and Town Council recently approved another 20 on a piece of land to the east of the Garden, south of the Blue Sky Opportunities recycling shop.
"Last year we had 110 plots that we rented, and it just seemed like this year, people kept coming and so, we just needed more room," said Heppner.
He feels there are a few reasons for this spike in interest.
"Quite a few of the people who are doing half-plots are asking for a full plot now, or the ones that had one plot are asking for two. Another thing is, the price of groceries maybe? Some of these people are on fixed incomes."
Heppner added, the gardens are also quite popular with new residents to town.
"For example, we now have between 20 and 25 Ukrainian families that came this past year, so I have a number of them signed up for garden plots. And also from other places...different places in Africa. There's always new people coming."
For Heppner, it is this diversity and sense of community that he enjoys so much about the community gardens. That sense of community will hopefully be futher fostered by the completion of the garden pavillion this summer. Complete with washrooms, the plan is to use the space as a gathering spot and as a venue to host events like gardening workshops and potluck meals.
The extra 32 plots being created this year will bring the Gardens' total to 142 for 2023. Work is also underway to complete 10 wheelchair accessible gardens this summer. Heppner says that means they'll be able to offer 152 for rent in 2024. And to think it all started with 57 plots 5 years ago.
Additionally, Heppner says a two-phased plan has been created to establish 20 more plots to the north next year and, if demand continues to grow, another 20 the following year.
A few plots are still available for rent this summer, and those interested are asked to give Heppner a call at 204-304-0656. "I can still sign you up. There's still a month's time before we open the Garden. We aim to open May Long Weekend."