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Gardening group undertakes work with an eye towards next year

Gardening blossomed during the coronavirus crisis, an activity that both provides an outlet for all the extra time on our hands and as a way to supplement food supplies during a time of uncertainty.

It’s a boom time for home owners as a family friendly undertaking, but less so for group activities such as those normally carried out by the local horticultural society. The junior gardeners program, for instance, has seen some activity, but nothing like what would normally be the case.

“We were able to put in six raised beds in part of our junior garden plot last week and then filled them up with soil. The other half is currently covered to help keep it weed-free,” said Christine Webb, president of Woolwich Gardeners, the new name for what was Elmira and District Horticultural Society, noting response from members and volunteers remains strong.

JL’s Home Hardware on Duke Street was one of the many contributors to the renovations. The donated lumber and screws for Woolwich Gardeners to assemble the six new raised beds. Another contributor was Conestoga Contracting, who helped cover the weed-infested area at no cost. Elmview Farms also helped by supplying the soil.

“We’re just amazed that you ask and you will receive from our community. As soon as we told them what we were going to do and why, they were like, ‘yeah, what can we do?’”

President of the group for six years now, Webb also currently acts as an education coordinator for the organization, arranging speakers for the program.

In the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdown, almost all of the group’s activities were on hold. With the loosening of restrictions in stage 1 allowing community gardens, the upkeep made it difficult to justify the launch of this year’s junior plot with no guarantee on if it would be able to operate as hoped.

“Our whole purpose here is just to get it prepared and get interest and have it looking nice for next spring,” said Webb.

The program typically sees a group of 10-12 young kids ranging from the age of eight to 12 or so.

“One of our mandates of our horticultural society is to teach youth, to educate youth about the joys of gardening and everything to do with horticulture so that as they grow they can incorporate that into their lives, too. And it’s not just for education, it’s also for well-being,” she explained, noting the mental-health benefits of gardening.

Webb encourages anyone that may be interested in joining the Woolwich Gardeners to get in contact with the organization through social media accounts on both Facebook and Instagram. Current membership is about 140, perhaps not surprisingly down from last year’s 170 and an average-year number of 200 members. Membership costs just $12, and offers the benefit of discounts to some local establishments.

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