Raymond Community Garden – Sustainable Growth for Community
The Town of Raymond and its residents have identified a communal need to help improve local food security and food sovereignty. Food security is the availability to food while food sovereignty is the personal participation in food choices and production. The Raymond Community Garden (RCG) will provide fresh food relief for residents in need and provide access to a growing space to learn and grow food efficiently and in a sustainable manner. The outcome of this garden will be improved food security but also improved food sovereignty.
The RCG was established, in summer of 2021, as a partnership between the town, concerned citizens, and supporting organizations. This communal effort of petitioning the Raymond Town Council for permission to use town land was a success, an effort guided by town administrators. Secure Your Food, Raymond Little Free Pantries, and Raymond Wellness Coalition have pledged their support. This trifecta of partnerships has resulted in an intriguing planning and concept for the RCG.
Secure Your Food (SYF) has been involved in supporting community gardens within the Southern Alberta Region for the last four years with advice, advocacy, and material support. SYF growth systems are designed to be accessible, efficient with growing resources, and mitigate climatic conditions (e.g., Extreme weather events). SYF system designs and planning are Climate Change Adaptations and the RCG will be utilizing these systems for use.
How the RCG will function in a sustainable and efficient manner is due to the construction and design of the fruit guild and garden bed design. The RCG will be a haven to beneficial insects and animals using permaculture techniques that emphasize a harmonious and collaborative relationship between the trees and plants, beneficial soil organisms, planting medium, and environment. The Fruit Guild and Hügelkultur Method mimic natural processes on a micro scale that give the garden the ability to manage resources efficiently, create a mini ecosystem feeding production, and reduces the inputs in comparisons to conventional community gardens.
The strength of the RCG is marrying sustainability with community effort. Growing is occurring with those accessing fresh produce and those using the space to learn and be edified. The RCG will begin operations in the 2022 growing season and we invite you to be a part of our start with our communal efforts in initiating the Raymond Community Garden.
Who Will it Benefit?
The health and vitality of the community is dependent on those who are most vulnerable. We liken the progression of the community to a hiking party where the group travels as fast as the slowest of the group can manage. Basic physical and mental health is fueled by fresh fruits and vegetables, and the consumption of this produce can maintain or improve health. Making fresh produce available to those in need results in improved overall health and by extension improves community health and spirit.
Currently, the Town of Raymond has one grocery store along with two gas stations, but their size and price does not easily allow for diversity of fresh products. The nearest supermarket or big box store is located 38 Kilometers away in Lethbridge. Raymond does not have a local food bank but does have local resources that offer relief like Local Churches, Raymond Health Services (Alberta Health Services), and the Raymond Little Free Pantries. The nearest food bank is in the City of Lethbridge, 38 Kilometers from Raymond.
Local churches do have food relief, but they are limited by what they can offer and in some cases the relief is located far away from Raymond (e.g., Bishop’s Storehouse located in Lethbridge). The Raymond Health Centre offers subsidies for new mothers and diet health advice but again choices are limited with the food options available in the town.
Raymond Little Free Pantries (RFLP) provides food relief in the form of canned goods and by what is obtained from donations from concerned residents but is not a stable source. The RLFP has commented that people accessing its relief has increased since the start of the service but also during the pandemic. The RLFP have indicated that fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) would be welcomed, considering the food relief they give out is mostly canned. As a result, healthy food choices would benefit those accessing help from the RLFP.
The RCG will ensure access to a stable source of fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) during the growing season and potentially year-round. Some people are reluctant to access food relief but the offer to volunteer at the community garden will ensure those accessing can pay it back. This allows those accessing needed food relief a respect of their person and a dignity not often found in food relief operations. Local residents experiencing poverty, disability, old age, or circumstance will benefit with these expanded food options and growing options.