Edmonton Urban Farm doubles in size and opens to visitors
'When they get here they feel the magic but I don’t think as many people know about us as they should'
Patty Milligan is getting ready to welcome guests to the Edmonton Urban Farm.
"When they get here they feel the magic but I don't think as many people know about us as they should," says the agricultural education specialist with Explore Edmonton.
The farm at 11312 79 St. opened seven years ago with about 50 gardeners. This year, with a $35,000 grant from the United Way and the Butler Family Foundation, Milligan said it's now doubled in size.
You can see more from the Edmonton Urban Farm on Our Edmonton on Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at noon and 11 a.m. Monday on CBC TV and CBC GEM.
Some vegetables are already flourishing in the new plots. More soil and wood chips are being trucked into what was once a vacant lot used to store rodeo dirt by Northlands, now run by Explore Edmonton.
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Milligan said that means a space of two acres is now home to more than 100 varieties of plants, three heritage chickens, a bee hive and more.
On Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., as part of Alberta Open Farm Days, volunteers will show off everything from garden variety peas and carrots to crops you might not expect to see growing in Edmonton like asparagus and quinoa.
"Our gardners come from many, many backgrounds and we have almost 20 different languages represented here," said Milligan.
Killa Maragang points to black-eyed beans, kale and pumpkins already growing in her space.
"We did a very good job, our farm is green and beautiful," said the gardener, who works with the Multicultural Health Brokers.
Maragang and about a dozen other volunteers from Edmonton's Sudanese community get together, mostly in the evenings, to do the weeding and the watering.
"We feel very, very happy because back home we are farmers," Maragana said. She said memories come flooding back along with a sense of accomplishment about growing their own food.
"You feel that you did it, you know what's inside, it's clean and it's good."
"Gardening is an essential part of education," said Afsheen Peyrow.
Three years ago the volunteer took on a plot in the Edmonton Urban Farm that was overrun with quack grass and dandelions and has since transformed it into a lush, leafy labyrinth.
"Literally two handfuls of seeds does all of this. That is amazing to me!"
Peyrow is pleased to see the new farmers and the garden expansion and hopes other spaces across the city can be freed up to do the same.