INNISFAIL – The new greenhouse at the Innisfail Community Garden is up but there is still much work to be done to get it ready for loyal green thumbs of town.
Last month, Innisfail Garden Club volunteers dedicated two full weeks to assemble the new Sungrow 32 greenhouse; a 9.75-metre (32-foot) long, three-metre (10-foot) wide and 2.44-metre (eight-foot) high heavy-duty structure that is specifically designed for backyard farming.
“We worked the earlier hours and later hours of the day to avoid the heat. It was really hot so that worked well,” said Marion Davidson, who has managed the community garden for the past seven years.
“It was not a small task, believe me. It was like an adult Meccano set. There was a lot more to it than we thought,” she added. “We weren’t in a rush. We just did what we could every day, and we had to work with and around the heat, and who was available when. We had people coming in and out all the time, and then you had to regroup and train others.”
However, as of last week, the new greenhouse was still empty at the community garden, which is located beside Dodd’s Lake Manor.
Davidson said club members are still working on building interior beds and lumber will soon be brought inside for that task, but the ground has to be softened and fully prepared first.
“It’s just step by step, and minute steps it seems like,” she said. “It’s not going to be an instant project, believe me.”
The club is aiming to have the new greenhouse to be a three-season facility. The greenhouse is designed to be portable, and has four sets of wheels to give eight dedicated gardeners the ability to move it to other site locations.
However, while these goals can be realized in the not-too-distant future, there are immediate priorities and challenges that must be dealt with.
“I’ve had people look at it and say we should anchor it, so now we have to put out money to anchor it and we have a donation of lumber, but it’s not going to do two locations. It will only do one and a half. It’s a process, so I am going to have to find more lumber,” said Davidson, adding the club may need to bring in more soil, which will also cost more money.
“Everything is a process, and I am not going to put any pressure on timelines. We will probably anchor the four corners, because if you get severe winds, it can just be picked up and moved away.
"That is our next step is to anchor it where it is right now, and to work at that present location on the beds, getting soil ready, and ideally one more location to the north.”
However, there is now a budget issue. The club was able to buy the basic greenhouse through a $5,000 grant from the town, which was originally part of the provincial Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) funding Innisfail received last year for COVID expenses. Any other associated costs are the club’s responsibility.
Davidson said the club and garden members chipped in about 10 per cent of that cost to cover shipping bills and other expenses.
Davidson was grateful, however, that the town did cover the cost of site preparation.
“That was a blessing. Everything does cost,” she said, noting the club has not even reached the buying seed stage. “We have some additional costs obviously, the mobility of it and the anchoring and perhaps the bringing in of soil. There is more to this than just the grant we received. At this point we are beyond our budget.”
If any citizen wants to help the club with its essential purchases of quality soil, anchors and other items they can email Davidson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 403-227-0377.