Group pushing for community garden in Smiths Falls

Posted on: April 8, 2017

Chris Must

A Smiths Falls group advocating to build a community garden on the grounds of Heritage House Museum has already won some support from town councillors.

Following an April 3 presentation by the group known as The Community Carrot, Councillor John Maloney, known as the driving force behind the annual Urban Jungle obstacle course, commented, “There’s nothing more therapeutic than digging through mud.”

On behalf of The Community Carrot, a group which is pursuing official not-for-profit status, Nicole Purcell, Ken Manwell and Mel Hendershott outline their plans to build the community garden by May 24.

The project, calling for nine garden plots and eight raised beds, is intended to improve local food security, teach members of the community about gardening, and help to decrease the pressure on the Smiths Falls food bank. The plots would be rented to people wishing to become members of the community garden. The group asked town council to assist with insurance coverage, and agree to allow access to the three downspouts at Heritage House for the collection of rainwater, to allow construction of a storage shed, and the use of museum parking spaces.

Manwell explained that the property to the rear of Heritage House slopes downward, and the garden plots would be located on the slop. “We’re not going to touch the upper part,” he said.

The garden is to be easily accessible from the adjacent curling club parking lot.

“I think it’s a great idea, and I do think it’s needed in our community,” said Councillor Lorraine Allen.

In response to questions from councillors, Hendershott said the group recognized that Heritage House represents the history of the 19th century, and that any activity would be done with the mission of the museum in mind. “We don’t want to change what Heritage House represents,” he said. “We want to enhance that.”

The group agreed to present its plans to the members of the museum’s advisory board as soon as possible. Councillors also requested a report from town staff to provide more details, particularly regarding insurance arrangements. Town Director of Community Services Art Manhire said documents on the garden concept are ready to be presented to the museum board members, and that funding is available this year to build a storage shed to a heritage design.