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Undeterred by truckloads of soil, mountains of mulch and dramatic weather changes, over 80 volunteers worked against the clock to transform a once swampy field into a beautiful and productive community garden in the Albert Park Radisson Heights Community in Calgary, AB.
On July 27, 2011 volunteers from Fiskars, the Calgary Horticultural Society, The City of Calgary, Canadian Tire, and the Albert Park Radisson Heights community completed the third and final Project Orange Thumb community garden makeover for 2011. In less than eight hours, the 12,765-square-foot field adjacent to the Albert Park Skate Shack was transformed into the Albert Park Centennial Garden.
Despite early morning rain, the 8:00 a.m. first dig was made under sunny skies by Fiskars Americas President Paul Tonnesen; Canadian Tire Corporation Senior Vice President of Merchandising Duncan Reith; Calgary Horticultural Society Executive Director Elizabeth Jolicoeur; Albert Park Radisson Heights Community Association Garden Committee Lead Algernon Wilson; and Garden Designer, Author and TV host Joe Lamp’l. Moments later, garden beds and a pergola were under construction, plants were being placed, and volunteers began transporting wheelbarrows of soil throughout the garden.
Viewed by the community as a local hero, Algernon Wilson identified the garden site months ago and, with the help of several dedicated volunteers, devoted numerous hours to site preparation. On the day of the installation, neighboring community members working in the garden or simply passing by on the sidewalk were thrilled to see the beautification of the empty lot. From lifetime residents to families who brought their young children to the site, local residents enjoyed getting their hands dirty and welcomed the opportunity to grow their own food. Volunteers also received help from youth participating in a weekly gardening club who eagerly grabbed trowels to help plant strawberries.
After a heavy afternoon rain shower, a formidable mountain of mulch remained outside of the garden, but without losing momentum, volunteers worked together to move 142 cubic yards of mulch in a matter of hours.
By the end of the day, 600 plants were planted throughout the garden including perennials, fruit trees, berries, and mixed herbs and vegetables. A 16-foot pergola was constructed in the center of the garden surrounded by rose beds, four raised beds, two pedestal beds and 16 in-ground beds to serve a variety of gardening needs. Community members have the opportunity to rent garden plots or utilize communal beds, and a portion of the produce grown in the communal beds will be donated to communities in need.
The new garden was celebrated with a 4:00 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by many proud volunteers and community members, as well as several local officials including: Member of Parliament for Calgary East Deepak Obhrai; Member of the Legislative Assembly for CalgaryEast Moe Amery; and Alderman Andre Chabot. During the ribbon cutting remarks, Obhrai looked forward to returning to the garden for fresh strawberries and Jolicoeur gave a toast with her trowel to the newly created Albert Park Centennial Garden. The success of the Albert Park Centennial Garden is hoped to instill confidence in emerging leaders to help future community gardens successfully take root in Calgary.
See a time-lapse of the event. Click Here »
See an update on the garden. Click here »
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