AMHERST – The breeze made it cool even though the sun was out. But a chill in the air and the prospect of work didn’t deter a group of teenagers from descending Friday morning on the Amherst Community Garden.
The garden, tucked away on a plot of land adjacent to Veno Avenue, was the focus of attention for students in ARHS’s Physically Active Lifestyles class.
“They were very excited to come today,” said Vanessa Knock, their teacher.
Put aside stereotypes of apathetic teenagers. The bulk of the group – around 20 kids, perhaps – looked busy, using tools to weed, and shovels and buckets to prep compost. Wood frames lay in ordered rows, ready to be filled for raised beds.
Emma Smith, a Grade 11 student, showed up early.
“I just wanted to help (out),” she said.
“I like to garden.”
Smith comes for a family of gardeners. She said the community plot was in rough shape, and expressed her hope the public pitches in to preserve the garden.
“I think it’s good for the community,” she said.
“It’s not too bad,” said Connor Walker of the work.
The Grade 10 student liked the change of pace.
“Oh yeah…anything to get out of school.”
The teacher, Knock, said the students considered a couple of projects.
“This was close to the school,” she said.
Knock said community gardens are a throwback to Nova Scotian traditions, but are also undergoing a resurgence in popularity in the province. She listed a number of ways the community garden could be used, everything from individuals growing for their personal use to selling produce or finding a way to use the garden’s output to benefit those experiencing food insecurity.
“We’re hoping that people will donate things…,” she said. One of the examples she gave was plants.
The wood for the raised beds was donated, as was the labour to construct them.
Some of the land for the community garden belongs to the Bragg family. Knock said Liz Sumbu, who lives nearby, encouraged them when they came for a site visit. And the garden itself is sponsored by the Poverty Action Committee of Cumberland County.
The town of Amherst has set aside property near E.B. Chandler to host the garden in the future. Knock didn’t know when that move would take place.
“We’re assuming it’s going to be here (this summer),” she said.