Strathmore - How to Grow a Community Garden
HEAL is a healthy community coalition that has been active in Strathmore since 2007. Read more here.
Strathmore’s Communities in Bloom started a community garden 10 years ago but recently relocated across the street from Wheatland Montessori Elementary School. 3 of the Garden of EAT’N plots have been reserved for students to get their hands dirty and learn from experience. Recently the school reached out to Robert Breitwieser, a garden member, asking how they could develop a school garden of their own.
Robert was raised in Gardenville and says that gardening is “in his blood”. He is an active community member, living in Strathmore for many years and volunteering on a variety of societies including Communities in Bloom, HEAL, Lion’s club and more. Robert is a visionary leader and is skilled at connecting with community members, he recognizes individual strengths and how each person can contribute to making Strathmore a healthy community.
Robert and his wife Sandy have been teaching children about gardening and
Another teaching point has to do with sunscreen protection. They encourage the students to wear wide brim hats,
Robert and Sandy are known as the Garden Guy and Garden Gal to the students and will often be called that when out and about in Strathmore.
After reaching out to key partners and explaining the vision of the new school garden, donations were provided from Communities in Bloom, HEAL, Parent Council and the Educational Partnership Foundation to start the garden. Robert’s connections with the lumber yard owner lead to donations of supplies, and the shop teacher at the local high school made building the garden boxes a class project. An ongoing partnership with Home Hardware supplies thousands of seeds at the end of each season to be gifted to community members to use the following year.
To engage the children in getting excited about the garden, the school created a fun “Name the Garden” contest. 60 students submitted ideas. Robert put together a garden growing kit which was awarded to the student who won the contest at a school assembly. “Wakapa’s Garden” was the winner!
Communities in Bloom has a spring event every year to kick off the season. Donated seed packages are available for people to take for free. Each year a speaker presents about
In 2018 a new initiative called Backyard Bounty was started. Strathmore wants to encourage people to donate
To make community initiatives work, Robert says “Try to pick a project that’s doable, start small so you can see early successes that can be built on. Look for the many gifts people have to contribute!”
Robert always seeks opportunities to attend events such as the Healthy Community Symposium hosted by Alberta Healthy Communities, AHS and Communities Choosewell. He says that free events always spark interest and inspire new ideas.