Calgary

Northeast Sikh temple builds vegetable garden to bring community together

A new vegetable garden being built at the Dashmesh Culture Centre in Martindale is designed to bring the local community together in a safe COVID-friendly outdoor space this summer.

It’s hoped the garden will attract different generations and cultures

Amanpreet Singh, left, Kamal Bassi, centre, and Harpal Singh, right, with the Dashmesh Culture Centre stand in front of planters in the centre’s new garden space. It will provide some produce for the Sikh temple’s kitchen, which hands out hot vegetarian meals to those that need it as part of the Sikh tradition of Langar. (Dan McGarvey)

A new vegetable garden being built at the Dashmesh Culture Centre in Martindale is designed to bring the local community together in a safe COVID-friendly outdoor space this summer.

The garden at the back of the Sikh temple is for people of all backgrounds and cultures, say the centre's leadership, who have worked with the Martindale Community Association on the project.

"We thought it's a good platform for our elders and new generation to get together and learn about the plants," said Amanpreet Singh, president of the Dashmesh Culture Centre.

  • Watch how their garden is shaping up in the video below.
These Sikh seniors are growing kindness and community in northeast Calgary while learning about good Canadian crops. 1:45

"Everyone is welcome here, and during COVID-19 we have a place where everyone can be together and still keep their social distance," he said.

The garden is growing everything from herbs to cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, spinach and baby radishes, and is being tended to daily by a crew of Sikh seniors.

The food the garden produces can be used by the local community and in the centre's kitchens, which provides free hot vegetarian meals to anyone in need seven days per week.

"Everyone can take it, can use it and also we'll use it in the kitchen, too, but it's for the whole community," said Singh.

"It was a great opportunity," said Harpal Singh. "It gives us a lot of joy. With COVID there's a lot of people sitting at home, and we saw it as an opportunity to teach the community about agriculture and involve people from the local area.

The new community garden is a partnership with the neighbouring community of Martindale. It’s an opportunity for people of different backgrounds and cultures to learn about growing vegetables, say organizers. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

The centre was helped by Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal and the City of Calgary, providing a delivery of compost for the raised beds.

"We thought we'd use our expertise from back home," said Kamal Bassi, who studied agriculture in India. "We will try and grow vegetables that can be grown in Calgary weather, which can be grown up to the edible stage."

"We have a short growing season and the raised beds help with Calgary's weather," said Bassi.

Every Sunday, alumni from the Punjab Agricultural University in India, including Singh and Bassi, will be on hand to help with advice on planting techniques and gardening tips and questions.

They hope members of the public can use what they learn at the centre and start growing in their own back yards.

About the Author

Dan McGarvey

Journalist

Dan McGarvey is a mobile journalist focused on filing stories remotely for CBC Calgary’s web, radio, TV and social media platforms, only using an iPhone and mobile tech. You can email story ideas and tips to Dan at: dan.mcgarvey@cbc.ca or tweet him @DanMcGarvey

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