The new South Pointe Community Garden is ploughed, plotted and busy with 56 gardeners in the mornings and evenings. The garden is located at the end of Northridge Road, just off John Angus Drive.
Qualico Developers made the land available for the Canada Pakistan Trade and Cultural Association to lease on behalf of the garden group. The Sri Lankan Association of Manitoba helped write grant proposals. The City of Winnipeg is supplying wood chips, compost and water. Barb Pierce from the Manitoba Master Gardener Association staked out the plots.
Immanuel Fellowship Church and the Sri Lankan Association of Manitoba are growing food for Winnipeg Harvest.
Other supporters include Bayview Construction, the South Pointe Residents Group, the Manitoba Chinese Community Centre, and the Winnipeg Wellness Grant. Supporting developers include Ventura, Ladco, Ironclad, Hillside, Ledcor, and Kothari Group.
Janice Lukes, city councillor for Waverley West, said she started receiving inquiries about a community garden last year.
"So I reached out to Qualico, and I said, ‘Look, we’ve got a pile of gardeners. Do you have any land we can use until your developments are built?’" Lukes recalled. "And they said yes, so that was exciting."
Lukes increased interest by sending flyers to apartment buildings throughout the ward. She then asked the Winnipeg Food Council if it knew of a student who could help co-ordinate a garden.
Viktoria Hergenreiter volunteered. A pre-dietetics student at the University of Manitoba who hopes to enter the master of dietetics program, Hergenreiter heard about the need for a co-ordinator at the end of a seminar led by a Winnipeg Food Council representative.
Now she receives inquiries for plots, arranges webinars, and writes educational materials and updates for the gardeners.
"We’ve had to add 15 plots above what we’d originally planned because the support is so good, and we still have people asking. We’re at full capacity right now," Hergenreiter said.
The garden is expected to stay on its current plot for five to 10 years before moving.
"We’re getting apple trees," Hergenreiter said. "We’re getting benches where people can interact when there’s no COVID. We’re making this a place where people can get together and get to know one another."
For her, a community garden is a unique chance to try gardening.
"I don’t have a garden space where I live. I rent. The community garden is the place where I can grow things."
It’s a similar opportunity for Olawale Jegede, who keeps a plot with his wife and two sons, aged seven and three. "We grew up gardening in Nigeria. My wife had been thinking about gardening, but we couldn’t farm at the back of the house because we don’t have a fence (for deer)."
Jegede discovered the garden while jogging through the neighbourhood in May. Now his family has a 10-by-20-foot plot on which they are growing tomatoes, green bell peppers, lettuce and watermelon.
"It’s a good experience for the kids," he said. "Every day we go there to water the plants. It’s fantastic. It’s an opportunity to meet our neighbours. An opportunity to show the kids what it looks like to grow a plant from the beginning to when it starts to give us fruit."
To inquire about when more plots will be available, ask questions, or offer support, community members can email Viktoria at SouthPointeCommunityGarden@gmail.com