A number of Highlands residents are eager to get their hands dirty, but before doing so, they want to make sure each shovel full of dirt will benefit the community they live in.
“Our plan is to create a community garden where Highlands residents can, for a small fee, rent a small plot to garden,” said Marlene Tyshynski, one of the organizers of the project. “It’s a real challenge for residents to garden here.”
With limited topsoil combined with an abundance of shade and steep rocky outcrops, Tyshynski said, Highlanders face a number of obstacles and substantial costs when trying to start their own gardens, not to mention the relentless deer and rabbits they have to keep away from what they do manage to grow.
“We’re hoping to take care of all of that so people can garden,” she said. “It’ll be for individuals and there will also be more communal areas.” Also, by gathering a number of gardeners in one place, organizers hope there will be an exchange of knowledge, tips and tricks.
“The gardening is only one aspect, the other is a sense of community. It involves a lot of community engagement … that’s the other benefit.”
Hoping to capitalize on that engagement, organizers are hosting a series of community meetings to find out what exactly Highlanders want to see for this garden. “We also want to hear if people have concerns,” Tyshynski added.
The first meeting happens July 30 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Community Hall. Organizers are hoping to come up with some ideas for a name, what the work site will look like and brainstorm as much as possible. “We hope it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
They have also been working with other community garden groups from across the region, whose members have shared a number of great ideas, Tyshynski said. “It’s going to be a long term project. We’re going to start small and depending on demand, we’ll expand.”
The proposed site for the garden is at the Community Hall and Tyshynski estimated it could eventually grow to roughly three acres in size. But that all depends on the community’s involvement.
“We’re really going to be depending on Highlands residents to volunteer their time and skills,” she said, adding “our council has been really supportive.”
Highlands council recently adopted a zoning amendment that allows for community gardens on Public 2-zoned land. Four properties were affected by the change and include the Community Hall, 729 Finlayson Arm Rd., the municipal office (1980 Millstream Rd.), the East Fire Hall (3613 Woodridge Pl.) and the West Fire Hall and playground (1564 Millstream Rd.).