Fort Macleod will celebrate the arrival of a new growing season on Saturday, April 26.
The inaugural Spring Garden Exchange is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Urban Core, the newly-renovated building formerly known as Marly’s Video Plus on Main Street.
“Our purpose is a fun and welcoming space for community members to gather where they can learn, share, meet new friends and old and be inspired to grow some of their own food,” explained Ronda Reach of Fort Macleod Food Matters.
A wealth of information will be available about gardening and composting, and a seed and plant exchange will take place.
A children’s gardening competition will also kick off on Saturday.
Information will be available about the Fort Macleod Community Garden on Seventh Avenue.
Cottonwood Organic Food Co-operative will also make information available.
Fort Macleod Food Matters was formed following a one-day workshop in January about food security.
“Action pieces from the January workshop that highlighted our community’s food assets indicated a desire for community members to have a space where they can share ideas, knowledge and resources about good food,” Reach said.
Local residents will be on hand to share their expertise with others throughout the two-hour Spring Garden Exchange.
One of the key components of the day is a seed and plant exchange.
People are invited to bring their surplus seeds and plants to exchange and share with others, or just to attend to visit and gather some information.
Reach said seedlings that have been started and surplus vegetables such as tomatoes and squash are welcome at the exchange.
The more information people can provide about the history of the plant or seed the better, such as whether it is a hybrid or heritage seed.
“We hope the seed exchange will encourage more people to grow more food locally, shortening the distance between where food is produced and our dinner tables,” Reach said.
Invasive plant varietals are not welcome at the exchange.
“This might be another informative piece for people to learn about — what are invasive plants in our area,” Reach said.
Local businesses have donated sunflower and pumpkin seeds for children to start their own gardens in a new competition.
“We will help them get their seeds started then send them home with a chart to monitor the growth of their plant over the summer,” Reach said. “A growing competition will be held in the fall at the Farmer’s Market for them to bring their plant for judging.”
Reach said there has been strong support from the community for the event, including the use of Urban Core provided free of charge by Jacob and Domier Holwerda.
Coffee and other refreshments will be served, and their will be children’s activities.
“This is the first event of its kind in our community that I’m aware of, though our predecessors would have shared and exchanged seeds when they first cultivated the ground in this region,” Reach said.