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Have you ever considered getting involved with the Community Garden or the SAMRU Sustainability Centre? We chatted with Stephanie Melville who completed her first year at MRU during the 2013-14 academic year, and learned a little bit more about why she got involved. Read part one: http://www.samru.ca/community-garden-a-first-year-perspective/, or keep reading for the second part of our interview.
A variety of reasons to get involved
Although Stephanie Melville wasn’t attending spring or summer semester classes at MRU, she continues volunteering with the Community Garden while working. “It’s a great excuse to be out in the sunshine” she added, while some of the other benefits include the ability to build a self-reliant skill-set. She also noted that a lot of other reasons to get involved in the garden may relate to issues of overpopulation, food security issues, and a desire to lessen the stress on existing food systems. “It’s nice to have free food for a minimal time exchange” she added. With a number of people contributing to the community garden, the responsibility for watering or weeding doesn’t fall on one person; making a community garden ideal for gardeners who want to take advantage of a produce and herb garden, but also have summer travel plans. With the cost of organic food, having access to a pesticide-free garden is also a health-conscious option for minimal investment.
‘Many hands make light work’
A big part of the community garden is the community aspect; no one person is responsible for planning, watering, weeding, planting, or harvesting, which creates an inclusive sense of camaraderie. As Stephanie mentioned, it also means that even gardeners who plan summer vacations can still participate without worrying about their basil withering in the summer heat.
“On Wednesdays I water and weed, and then on Thursdays we have our weekly work parties” Melville explained. There are also occasional larger weekend work parties for those who can’t participate on Thursday evenings. “About a dozen people attend the Thursday work parties, and it doesn’t even feel like there is that much work to do” due to so many people being involved. There are also opportunities to socialize while working. “Time flies” summarized Stephanie when chatting about the group work parties where participants weed, water, tend the plants, care for the soil, and eventually harvest.
“It’s nice seeing people regularly” Stephanie added as an extra benefit of the community aspect of the garden. “During the academic year you see everyone every day, but then the summer comes and you don’t see anyone”. The garden community helps bridge those gaps for a social experience.
Want to read more about a first-year perspective on the Community Garden from volunteer Stephanie Melville? Check back on July 14th, 2014 when we’ll have part three from my interview.
In the meantime, you can learn more about the Community Garden on the SAMRU website: http://www.samru.ca/supportservices/sustainability/
By Dawn Linnemoller, Editor & Content Coordinator, SAMRU