heritage-garden

One of the legacies of our 150th anniversary year is the Heritage Garden located on parish property behind the Grotto. Conceived by two parishioners on a walk home from church, their idea blossomed into a truly wonderful space.

The first year of our garden was a very happy one. Fifty five gardeners tended forty six plots: 24 large, 14 medium and 8 small raised beds. Plots for the Food Bank, Parents' Place and St. Vincent de Paul were cared for by numerous volunteers. Gardeners' children and grandchildren made good use of the play area set aside for them. heritage-garden4A bed of native Alberta flowers and grasses was planned, planted and tended by a former parishioner now living in Edmonton. Shared spaces were planted with a variety of flowers, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, apple and cherry trees and saskatoon bushes. Classes were offered in general gardening techniques and in preserving produce.

At season's end, the gardeners enjoyed a potluck dinner and with great enthusiasm signed up for next year's plots.

When the garden was first proposed, Father Andrzej wanted it to be a place where community would grow as well as fruits and vegetables. The gardeners tell us this happened. We witnessed them offering each other advice and practical help as well as sharing herbs, produce and phone numbers. Many of the area's seniors made a visit to the garden part of their daily walks.heritage-garden6

The spring and summer of 2012 were very successful growing seasons for the garden. New plots were dug and a seating area was developed. We proudly erected our new sign overlooking our garden. garden sign

The 2013 season has been our most abundant. Our third compost area was created. The paths beside the gardens were marked with rubber mats so that our gardeners could have better access.

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A very eager and dedicated group of gardeners, now 60 strong, met in the spring of 2014 to plan the season. Each gardener committed to tending his or her own garden and also to volunteer for one of the many projects intended to improve the whole area. Over the course of the year an entrance arbor was installed with a plaque commemorating Father Andrzej’s support for the garden and a new seating area with a bench and decorative shrubbery.

Since its inception, our garden has been a labour of faith, hope and charity. There has been a plot dedicated to growing vegetables for the St. Albert Food Bank. This year, a teacher from St. Gabriel’s High School in St. Albert volunteered to organize students who planted and tended the plot for the Food Bank.