Plans to open a community garden on the grounds of Heritage House Museum in Smiths Falls are moving closer to reality, as members of the museum board have lent their support to the plan.
A volunteer group known as the Community Carrot made a presentation to Smiths Falls town council on April 3 outlining plans to build the garden at the rear of the museum property. Consisting of nine garden plots and eight raised beds, the project is intended to improve local food security and teach members of the community about gardening.
In a report on the project delivered at a meeting of council’s Committee of the Whole on April 24, town Director of Community Services Art Manhire added that the purpose of the garden is to grow food for families and individuals who may not have the space or resources to be able to do this on their own. “The format is to have a social environment that supports the local production of food that is sustainable while ensuring that food safety and security needs of the participants are met,” said Manhire.
Manhire said staff have checked with the town’s insurance provider and found that coverage can be extended to the group because the program is endorsed by the town.
Next steps in the process will include testing the soil in the area to the rear of the museum to ensure that it is suitable for growing vegetables.
One potential complication for the project is that the land occupied by Heritage House Museum is actually leased to the town by Parks Canada. If the construction of the garden unearths any artifacts, these will have to be reported to the federal government, which could delay the process.
Research has shown that the proposed location was actually used as a household garden in the past, “so it’s a very good use of that space,” said Manhire.
“It’s a great use of that space,” agreed Councillor Chris Cummings. “I couldn’t think of a better place to put it in Smiths Falls.”
Mayor Shawn Pankow said the project will create opportunities for volunteers to get involved, and added that he looks forward to the day when, “We’ll see the fruits of our labours.”