The Silver Springs ‘Edible Garden Group’ operates under the umbrella of the Silver Springs Community Association. A nominal annual fee is charged for the rental of a garden box, which is then used to offset the operating costs of the garden. A contract, which must be signed at the time of renting a garden box, is a continuing contract so yearly renewal does not require a new contract to be signed. Membership in the Silver Springs Community Association is a prerequisite.
What is a Community Garden?
A community garden is any group of people coming together to garden. People of all ages, new or experienced gardeners, can be part of a community garden. Community gardens come in many different shapes and sizes, large or small, on the ground or on rooftops, in raised bed plots, in containers, or a mixture of any of these. Every community garden is unique. The Calgary Horticulture Society has been a strong advocate of community gardens.
Benefits of a Community Garden
There are many benefits of a community garden, some of which may include:
Fresh, pesticide-free produce
Affordable supplementation of meals and nutrition
Sharing of knowledge and hands-on learning by doing
Improvement of neighbourhood safety and security
Increasing satisfaction and pleasure in one’s community
Connects children to nature and understanding where their food comes from
Adds beauty, inspiration, and serenity to the neighbourhood
Contributes to a healthy ecosystem
Encourages local biodiversity
Reduces food transportation distances
Improves urban air quality
Assists storm water runoff absorption
Reduces personal use of the earth’s resources
Reduces personal stress
Participation in outdoor physical activity
Gentle re-entry of activity during rehabilitation
Opportunities to share seeds, produce, plant and garden care, stories, and recipes
Creates a community hub that welcomes people of all ages, ethnicities, ability, or life experiences
History of the Silver Springs Edible Garden
The Edible Garden was an initiative of interested Silver Springs residents. Planning for this project began in November 2009. Countless hours of planning, grant applications, building, and planting were rewarded with a bountiful harvest in 2010. A Donation Box was designated for growing produce to share with other organizations or charities.
‘Food Forest and Gathering Space’
In 2020 the Edible Garden was expanded to include a ‘Food Forest and Gathering Space’. At the same time a garden shed with a ‘living roof’ was added, along with a bike rack and a ‘barking lot’. These additions all increased the usability and enjoyment of the garden. The ‘Living Roof’ on the shed has generated much interest.
In 2020 the number of garden boxes was increased from 34 to 36 with the addition of a prototype ‘elevated garden box’. These boxes are elevated about 6 inches off the ground which prevents the encroachment of nearby tree roots entering the box. This was so successful that plans are underway to replace some of the other existing ‘raised garden boxes’ with ‘elevated boxes’ in the next couple of years.
PLEASE NOTE that the area inside the chain link fence, which includes the perennial bed perimeter, is for the exclusive use of those who have paid a fee to rent a garden box. Fruit, vegetables, and herbs in the Food Forest outside the chain link fence are available for community members to enjoy. The community is encouraged to participate in the planting, maintenance, and harvesting of this area.
The Edible Garden continues to be a vibrant and thriving attraction in the heart of Silver Springs and is a place for all members of the community to enjoy.
Directions to the Garden
The garden is located in the park at the intersection of Silver Hill Rd and Silver Hill Way NW.
The Edible (Community) Garden provides an opportunity for members of the Silver Springs community to come together, (1) grow their own produce in either their own designated raised bed, or (2) outside the fence in the recent garden expansion of the ‘Gathering Space and Food Forest’, the latter which is intended for all members of the community to participate in planting and harvesting.
The Edible Garden is a pesticide and herbicide-free garden with objectives of educating all age groups in how to garden while recognizing our collective responsibility in managing and retaining the quality and abundance of our land, air, water, and biodiversity as a land caretaker steward. A portion of the harvest is shared with others through a variety of organizations, all of this with the intention of creating a strong sense of community.
How Is the Edible Garden Managed?
The ‘Head Gardener Group’ is the steering committee that makes decisions about the operation of the garden. Any interested gardener who wishes to have a voice in the operation of the garden is welcome to participate. This group meets on a ‘as needed’ basis, as well as communicating regularly by email.
Garden members volunteer to be part of the Head Gardener Group and fill necessary roles such as chairperson, secretary, treasurer, communications, box steward, and newsletter editor, all communicating with the Silver Springs Community Association.
Who is Responsible for Maintenance?
Each box renter must maintain their own raised bed according to the guidelines outlined in the contract they sign. Failure to comply with these expectations set out in the contract could result in their being denied a garden box for the following year.
Composting is an essential part of the Edible Garden and provides the nourishment which feeds the soil for next year’s harvest. The three-stage composting system provides an opportunity for garden members to become educated about composting. Permaculture is also considered which bases its principles of creating living environments that are harmonious, sustainable, and productive while greatly reducing the work and energy required to maintain them.
Education and community involvement
Part of the mandate of a community garden is education and community involvement. The Edible Garden welcomes teachers and students from the three elementary schools in Silver Springs to visit the Edible Garden under our mentoring/guidance. When teachers first approach the Edible Garden Group to arrange a field trip to the garden, the teachers would first meet with some of our group to jointly plan appropriate learning experiences.
Over the past few years, SOKO, the after school care program at SSCA, has rented a garden box where the children spend time with a teacher or mentor planting, harvesting, and learning about where their food comes from.
The Growing Connection ‘Garden Speaker Series’
Each year in early spring a series of four separate presentations is offered on a variety of garden-related topics. These talks are scheduled a month apart and are held at the Silver Springs Community Center for a nominal fee per session payable at the door. The Speaker Series is jointly hosted by the Edible Garden and the Botanical Gardens of Silver Springs. We are always looking for presenters and new interesting topics. If you have ideas for a presentation, or are a presenter, we would love to hear from you.