There’s incredible abundance here. People think there’s nothing left but that’s far from true. We have an ocean, apple and cherry trees grow wild all over town. Food isn’t just limited to the grocery store. We can grow it, we can forage for it, and we can sell the excess to supplement our incomes. Everything we need to live a happy, healthy life is right here in New Waterford.
Nicole Dixon, Town Farm/Wild Town founder
In an effort to reduce the effects of poverty and build food security in New Waterford, Town Farm Co-op received $25,500 of funding to run “Grow @ Home” during the 2018 growing season. The funding is part of the Nova Scotia government’s poverty reduction commitment and is run through the Departments of Community Services and Communities, Culture, and Heritage. Forty-nine projects shared $600,000 in the first year of the Building Vibrant Communities grants program.
Participants received everything they needed to grow food at home: a raised bed, soil, compost, seeds, and seedlings, and materials to extend the growing season into fall and winter. As well, participants attended workshops on growing, maintaining, harvesting, and preserving and selling their food and received a discounted membership to the Pan Cape Breton Food Hub Co-operative, who, along with Gardiner Mine’s Blue Heron Farm, partnered with Town Farm on this project.
Town Farm’s Grow @ Home program greatly benefited New Waterford. Participants became confident food growers who inspired their neighbours and friends to garden, too. This aligns with our vision of a new community of growers, with gardens spreading from yard to yard, and growing into abandoned lots and otherwise unused urban spaces. This co-operative of gardens and growers forms the basis of a vibrant, sustainable, urban farm, which could in turn create a beautiful, more food secure community.
17 families signed-up (about 50 people)
10 volunteers helped out
7 business partnerships formed
families saved on average $300-$500 on their grocery bills. Over $8500+ in food was grown!
To see how we did it, click on these photos!
One of our Grow @ Home (2018) raised garden beds.
Once we received funding we got the word out to attract participants.
Our poster at the post office.
We also got a mention in the Cape Breton Post!
After people signed up, we did site visits to scope out everyone's best location for their garden beds.
We looked for sunny, sheltered spots.
Future garden location.
Future garden location.
Lumber arrives from River Ryan Lumber, a local mill.
Raised beds are made from three 4x8 foot frames. Each frame is nailed together with spikes, then stacked on top of each other.
The rough 4x4 lumber is cut into 4 foot and 8 foot lengths.
Holes are pre-drilled to make hammering spikes into the wood a bit easier.
The CBRM rebuilt our road while all this was happening.
The construction made receiving, prepping, and delivering wood and supplies very difficult!
Our neighbour's best friend thought playing Jenga with our cut ends would be funny.
It was more art than funny.
Time to build our boxes!
Many participants helped build their own boxes.
We also had help from volunteers!
Thank you, volunteers!
Post-garden bed. The 4x4s are strong and stable and can be sat on or leaned/kneeled on when gardening. The wood is spruce and quite rot resistant. And, it seems, slug resistant, too!
Beds were lined with cardboard as a sustainable way to help suppress weeds.
Soil and compost arrive! Our neighbour generously offered to store it all on his back lot. Apologies to our other neighbours: CBRM compost is free but is smelly!
A bed we built in Lingan.
The Lingan bed gets filled with soil.
This site was at an apartment on Heelan St.
Kirk and Paul build the bed on Heelan.
The bed on Heelan filled with food.
When this participant moved, her bed moved with her! Our garden beds are portable.
Time to get planting! I drew up a map for everyone's garden bed based on Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening method.
SQF gardening is a really easy way for new gardeners to learn what to plant where, how to space plants, how deep to plant seeds, etc.
We purchased all our seeds from Hope Seeds and Annapolis Seeds, two Nova Scotia seed companies that specialize in open-pollinated and organic seeds.
When the seeds arrived I created kits for all the participants. Kits also included tomato and basil seedlings I started, pepper seedlings from Blue Heron Farm, and seeds I had saved myself.
We now use a greenhouse at BEC, which has cleared up a lot of space on our back deck!
Everyone also got a watering can, trowel, and row cover.
A package of trees arrives by mail!
We went to everyone's house and guided them as they planted their seeds and seedlings. We laid out a grid with string on the beds and participants planted their beds using their maps as their guide.
A front yard awaits its garden bed.
Soil and compost are delivered.
The bed is finally planted!
This grower built another bed on her own!
Throughout the growing season we visited sites for check-ins to see how the gardens were growing and give tips and advice.
This beautiful bed filled with food.
Our biggest hiccup (besides the weather) was securing a location for our workshops. One building got shut for demolition, and another caught fire! Despite our bad luck we managed to hold a fun "booch + soup" workshop where participants learned how to make kombucha and patty pan squash (aka, zucchini) soup.
Having a permanent kitchen to teach out of would really cut down on all the packing and moving of equipment needed to conduct a workshop.
Without a proper workshop space, impromptu fermenting lessons popped up in our kitchen!
Nicole Dixon taught a session on growing sprouting seeds as part of the New Waterford Library's girls' self-esteem program. And we made it into the paper again!
The sprouting workshop set up at the library.
Our plans for apple picking and cider pressing also had to be adjusted.
The late June frost killed a lot of flowers and we experienced a dearth year (meaning not a lot of fruit formed).
We did manage to find one good apple tree in New Waterford and squeezed in one apple cider pressing.
To top off a very busy summer and fall, Nicole Dixon also completed Dalhousie University's Modern Beekeeper course.
We started a small, urban honey bee operation.
The goal is to incorporate beekeeping with future Grow @ Home programs.
Finally, Town Farm (now Wild Town) started managing the New Waterford Community Garden just as Grow @ Home was launching!
We got a few bulbs in (tulips, daffodils, garlic) and mulched them with seaweed before our (very early) 2019 freeze-up.
All tucked in. We look forward to doing more gardening activities here at the garden and in even more back (and front) yards in future years!