It's a sea of green with splashes of brilliant colours and garden markers beginning at Henderson Highway and running parallel with the Chief Peguis Trail.
Tended daily by about 80 seniors from the area, the Millennium Gardens at 260 Douglas Ave., span about 1½ acres. In 39 raised-garden boxes and 42 ground-level boxes, members have planted a variety of vegetables along with a nod to Manitoba’s prairie ecosystem with tall grasses and flowers.
Every year at summer's end, members deliver produce from two designated garden boxes and more vegetables donated by member gardeners to Winnipeg Harvest for clients who use the food bank. Estimates are "hundreds and hundreds of pounds" of produce have been donated over the years.
"Giving back to our community is part of our mandate. We share with each other as well, but giving healthy food to people who might not have access to it all the time is very important to us," says chairwoman Mea Ramm, who leads the Millennium Gardens volunteer committee.
"Giving healthy food to people who might not have access to it all the time is very important to us." –Mea Ramm
The committee includes past chairwomen Dianne Wickenden and Darlene Karp, who just stepped down after 18 years, handyman Don Thomas and grass-cutter Ed Zygarliski. There's plenty of support from an army of other volunteers.
The project was established in 1999 to help seniors in the area increase their physical activity, build friendships and foster community spirit. It began at 1571 Henderson Hwy., but was it was moved to Douglas Avenue in 2000 to make way for the Chief Peguis Trail.
Along with park benches and picnic tables, a gazebo provides a refuge from the the sun for gardeners and visitors. There are weekly musical performances at the central meeting space.
"Exercise is an important part (of gardening), but socializing is another," Wickenden says. "A lot of us will sit there (in the gazebo) and visit."
Ramm, who has used a wheelchair for the past five years, said funding is needed to pave the gravel path from Douglas Avenue to the Chief Peguis walkway to increase accessibility for those with mobility aids.
Members pay $35 each per season to cover the cost of water and power. Other funding comes from donations and government grants.
— Ashley Prest
Photography by Ruth Bonneville