Opening a garden opens our hearts

It’s been almost four years since we moved to Canmore, and left behind a pretty sizable yard — with a well cultivated garden — in Calgary. I do miss digging in the dirt.

LINDA COTE-Community Garden 6I have had pots on my deck every year (on the second floor to keep the deer from eating the plants) and absolutely love the delight that my tiny deck-side garden brings me.

But, it’s not quite like digging in a big pile of earth with a shovel you have to jump on.

So, this year, we decided to join the Canmore Community Garden.

LINDA COTE-Community Garden 1

Our beautiful Rockies community garden in Canmore, located behind the hospital.

Today was opening day for the garden, and Mother’s Day. It was the perfect place for me to be, and I was thrilled that my family signed on to be there working the garden with me this season. (Although my boys — 8 and 11 — were not so sure about this, and I had to promise them several times that it would be FUN!)

So, my husband, boys and I spent the better part of three hours at the garden today, meeting the other members of our Beans ‘n’ Squash team, getting the low-down on the compost hierarchy, finding out the jobs that needed doing, digging weeds, and generally having a fabulous time.

LINDA COTE-Community Garden 8

Shovel and water bottles in hand, we begin the work of weeding the communal beds.

LINDA COTE-Community Garden 2

My 11-year-old checks out the communal beds that are bordered with clover to keep the dirt in. Clover can fix nitrogen into the soil so it will later be used to feed the garden.

It was one of those glorious Rocky Mountain days with the sun shining, the odd cloud in the sky, some terrific gusts of wind, and of course a late afternoon shower. But for the mid-day while we worked, it was brilliant. And, I couldn’t imagine being any other place.

Not only was it heavenly to get up to my wrists in dirt, yank out quack grass and dandelions, and dream about the harvests that will eventually come, it was amazing to see the garden fill up with others who want to come together to tend this space.

LINDA COTE-Community Garden 7

The Canmore Community Garden is a mix of private (rentable) plots and communal beds.

We are a mix of experienced gardeners and newbies. I have spent many years growing flower gardens, and a few herbs, but I don’t have a lot of experience with veggies. Many of the gardeners there have been part of this community garden for the last three years and are happy to take us under their wing.


One plant you can always count on is rhubarb. Ours is already making its presence known.

Gardening in the Rocky Mountains is challenging. We have late frosts in the spring, early frosts in the fall, and there are lots of plant-loving deer and squirrels to contend with.

LINDA COTE-Community Garden 3

Hoops will hold covers over the beds to protect tender vegetables from the cool nights.

The community garden is a perfect solution for those of us who don’t have the room for a home garden, or even the knowledge to do it ourselves. The garden is fenced to keep wildlife out, and is a perfect blend of private plots and community areas for “teams” to plant.

And, thanks to some fundraising, the garden now has money to repair some of the infrastructure of the garden, and on-site irrigation with real taps! I hear last year’s solution of dragging the hoses over from the hospital was a lot of work.

LINDA COTE-In the Garden

My son took my photo: me in my happy place outside in the garden!

It was a wonderful kick-off to a gardening season that I have personally missed.

I know our family will enjoy being part of this larger community effort to grow some delicious food.

For those interested, more information can be found at the Canmore Community Garden website.

It  felt great to see men, women, children and babies all gathering to celebrate the warmer weather and to cultivate this collective garden.

And, as my eight-year-old put it after digging weeds, raking straw and slinging gravel, “Farming is FUN!”

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”
–  Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist  


3 responses to “Opening a garden opens our hearts

    • Thanks! We’re so happy to be part of the community effort. And the view. I know. I still pinch myself over our setting, even years into living here!

  1. Pingback: Abundance is evident in the garden | Musings From The Studio·

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