A hardy magnolia flower in a McCauley backyard in 2017. Dustin Bajer
An urban beehive watches over a back yard food forest in McCauley in 2016. Dustin Bajer
In the fall of 2014, I was looking at a house just off Church Street – I decided on a whim to knock on the door of each potential neighbour and introduce myself. At one door, Naomi Pahl answered. Within minutes Naomi was giving me a tour of her yard. By the time I drove home, she had emailed me a list of fruit trees growing in her yard – in the event that I wanted to cross- reference it for cross-pollination purposes. I put an offer on the home, and I moved in at the end of October.
McCauley’s spirit of cultivation and community is alive and well. Everywhere I look I see gardens. Apples, pears, plums and cherries dot back and front yards. Long-skinny beans grown up long-skinny poles. A rare blackberry shrub. A yard filled with roses. A 50-year-old grape vine of unknown variety. The gardens in McCauley are as diverse as its inhabitants.
Growing A Gardening Movement
While there are a lot of fabulous gardens in McCauley, a group of passionate residents believe that there are opportunities to expand upon, stitch together, and share what’s happening in our neighbourhood.
A few weeks ago we started circulating a garden survey as a way to connect with fellow gardeners – it takes about 10 minutes and is a way for us to identify neighbourhood gardeners, resources, and opportunities. If you’re reading this, we’d love to hear from you. You can find our survey at: https://cultivatemccauley.ca/survey/
While results are still coming in, we’re starting to see common themes and opportunities. Here are a few highlights:
Neighbourhood Garden Workshops
Gardening is a lifelong passion that includes a diverse set of skills. While one gardener might be an expert in fruit trees, another gardener might grow perfect tomatoes or beautiful roses. With so many skills to learn, there are plenty of opportunities to offer formal and informal workshops throughout the growing season.
Garden Crawls & Social Events
We keep hearing that residents want to tour each other’s gardens. Half learning opportunity, half social event, garden crawls are a great way to meet neighbourhood gardeners, explore the community, and to get new ideas.
Plant Exchanges and Seed Swaps
Dividing perennials and collecting seeds is a cost-effective way to grow a garden and share in the bounty. Neighbourhood plant exchanges would offer opportunities to meet other gardeners, access a wide variety of unique plants at low (or no) cost, and beautify the community.
A Place to Connect and Share
We are currently creating CultivateMcCauley.ca as an online resource to connect gardeners, ask questions, and share. It’s also where we’ll explore, advertise, and share information about the workshops, events, and plant exchanges mentioned above.
Sharing Our Stories
Where else in the City can you find such a deep history and culture of gardening? What other community has multiple community gardens and an orchard? I believe that McCauley has something special that’s worth growing and sharing. I believe that McCauley is Edmonton’s Gardening Community.
Visit “CultivateMcCauley.ca”:http://CultivateMcCauley.ca for more information or to get involved.