Organizers of the garden project hope to offer a place for community members to grow their own vegetables, share knowledge, and work collaboratively to provide fresh food to residents and organizations in need around Clarence-Rockland.
Sarah Lacombe started the project back in January with her partner Matthew Byrne after someone on a Facebook group asked if the city had a community garden they could join. The question stuck with Lacombe and she immediately got to work.
“I just sort of jumped in and said let’s do it,” said Lacombe, now president of the Rockland Community Garden.
Growing up on a hobby farm, Lacombe was always interested in growing her own food. But as someone who rents her home, investing time and money in a backyard garden is not feasible. Lacombe believes she is not alone in this situation.
“I saw my own need to live a little more sustainably and have access to inexpensive organic food,” said Lacombe. “And I’m not the only one. Rockland is really expanding and a lot of the newer housing project don’t really have backyards. Maybe enough room for a barbecue, but that’s it.”
The Rockland Community Garden will operate as a non-profit and offer memberships for a plot in the garden. Members will be given access to tools, water from rain barrels and other resources to support their gardening. Residents will also be able to volunteer by helping grow vegetables for organizations like the food banks, or assist in the administration of the garden in exchange for a portion of the harvest. In the end, Lacombe just wants the garden to be accessible to all residents of Clarence-Rockland, and give them the opportunity to meet and support their neighbours.
“After the last few years, we need something good, something positive,” said Lacombe. “It’s not just a space for people to come and garden, but a space for people to come together and do something beneficial as a community.”
The team behind the garden is in early talks with municipal officials to discuss the city’s involvement. Lacombe is hopeful the city will provide a plot of land, access to water if required and some financial support. Lacombe is preparing to present the full project proposal to city council in August.
In the meantime, Lacombe’s team is looking for volunteers and feedback from the community regarding what they would like to see as part of the garden’s offerings through their website (www.rocklandcommunitygarden.ca) Facebook page.