Fresh organic veggies and fruit will soon be available for picking directly from garden plots around Hedley.
Gardeners – or anyone else who wants local food – can plant gardens outside their house fences for other residents to stop by and pick from.
The Spirit Gardens promote sharing amongst residents and eating locally, said Vickie Hansen, administrator for the Hedley Improvement District.
The garden plots could be located at the front of a house, in a community parks, outside businesses and even in alleys. It is up to each gardener to decide what they will plant.
The sharing system is handy because it allows participating people access to a wide range of food without having to grow it all themselves.
“A Spirit Garden is a land management system that works with our local ecosystem and adds edible fruit and nut trees, berry shrubs, edible perennials and annuals,” Hansen said.
There are many nutritious plants that are often considered weeds growing in abundance around Hedley, she added.
Companion plants can be included to attract insects for natural pest management, while some plants can be used as soil amenders providing nitrogen and mulch, she said.
Together they create relationships to form a Spirit Garden ecosystem able to produce high yields of food with less maintenance.
The Spirit Gardens will reduce climate impact and improve food security because people will be eating local food.
Extra edibles will be sold at the Hedley Farmers Market to raise money for the Spirit Garden’s needs, such as water tolls, seeds, plants, dirt, and fertilizer.
Hedley’s gardens stem from the international movement Incredible Edible Community Gardens that exists in communities of all sizes. Families in need can be “adopted” – not everyone has to grow their own food to take part.
The push to buy local and food sustainability concerns were the topics of a meeting in Princeton last month.
“We should only buy food that has a story. We should know where a particular vegetable comes from and who grew it,” said Colleen Ross, vice-president of the National Farmers Union, at the meeting.
But this can be extremely challenging with tight grocery store restrictions and interference by the government and big corporations, she added.
The Hedley Spirit Gardens are trying to overcome the need to buy from stores when healthy food can be grown right outside houses.
Hedley is also putting on a Farmers Market on Sundays from July to September.
Local farmers will be able to sell their food directly to people, instead of having to go through middlemen.
The market – which also sells local crafts – will also be a way for Hedley residents to make a bit of money off their extra food from the Spirit Gardens.
A table with free seeds and seedlings will be at the Hedley community yard sale on May 13.