By Larry Mullen, Food Bank Garden Coordinator

City Park has been home to “The Potato Patch,” a garden for the Food Bank, for the past two summers. Oct. 11 saw the last of this year’s crop harvested and delivered to the Food Bank larder.

Located on the half city block off 3rd. Avenue, between Duke and Duchess, and surrounded by a blue wire fence, the land was worked by volunteers and Food Bank staff to produce an abundant supply of fresh vegetables. The weeds threatened to defeat us during the long, hot days of July and early August — but volunteer workers prevailed. In early October, over a 6 day period, we dug up 6,180 lbs. of carrots. Earlier in the season the potato, beet, cabbage and onion crops yielded just over 9,000 lbs.

The crowning results, however, came from the stand of corn. On just under one third of an acre we picked 5,800 ears. This amount exceeds the 5 year provincial average! Thank you to Dave Hiebert for planting the idea, last fall, to grow corn.

There are a great many others to thank for this successful project. Most importantly, Keith and Carla Lysyshyn, living on 4th. Ave., provided access to their water. Without this generous supply we would not have had the yields we did. Several people from City Park and surrounding neighbourhoods came forward to lend a hand at important junctures.

The workers from Urban Camp, Teen Challenge, and Sask.Tel Pioneers were once again main stays. Wally, from Wally’s Urban Market Garden, whom many City Parkers know from his stall at the Farmers’ Market, provided inspired hands-on help several times during the summer.

Potato Patch

Critical to our success were staff, clientele, and volunteers from the Food Bank along with volunteer gardeners from Circle Drive Alliance Church who came at a crucial time. Ben Marlanovits, the horticulturist from the Core Neighbourhood Co-op, was also much appreciated for his assistance.

The final push to harvest all those carrots was provided by students via the Learning Centre and the Aboriginal Students’ Centre at the U of S. Also contributing from the University was Professor Doug Waterer and his staff from the Department of Plant Science, who provided invaluable work and consultation throughout the year. Welcome aboard and thanks also to the people newly involved from the Department of Soil Science.

Thanks to the reliable Ernie Fast who returned for year two with his cultivating equipment; to Rob Ferguson, owner of Super Save Fencing, for all his material help; to Ruth Anne and Robin from CHEP for their consultations, and to the Sask. Waste Reduction Council for volunteer help at another crucial time.

Hats off to Mayor Don Atcheson for his enthusiastic on-going support and to all the City Councillors who voted in favour of having the garden continue this past year.

Also thanks to Milt Taylor, owner of Imagery Photography on Duchess, inspired the project and provided necessary fund-raising support, bringing in money and in-kind contributions. In return we provided him with vegetables rather than half a city block of weeds. His enthusiastic interest helped make it all fun.

One final note: throughout this report I have used the words “critical” and “crucial” to describe times when the weeds were swamping us and/or the produce was ripe and ready for harvesting immediately if not sooner. Those of you who garden will appreciate how crucial it is to get help at these critical times! Half a city block is a lot of land to be responsible for, but everyone is already looking forward to 2012.

Photo: mellowynk/Flickr

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