Vehicles slowed as they drove by 6110 Fulton Road, their drivers and passengers curiously watching at the dozens of people hard at work. Over several weeks the neighbourhood watched as this simple church yard was transformed into a beautifully and creatively designed community garden.
“What started out as a seed of an idea, turned into a dream and has cultivated into a flourishing community garden,” said Sherry Prokopuk, main organizer of the Sunshine Community Garden.
The idea of building a community garden in Edmonton’s south-east neighbourhood of Fulton Place came to Prokopuk several years ago. It stemmed from questions from her young children about where food comes from while planting her own backyard vegetable garden.
Sherry began talking with people in the community and before long a team of eager gardeners were ready to take on the project.
The land was made available by St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, located in the centre of the community. The garden features 38 raised garden plots arranged in a sunburst formation, radiating out from the unique steeple of the church. The plots are rented out to members of the community.
The garden plots include eight 24-in. raised beds to accommodate seniors and those with reduced mobility. Specialized garden tools, an accessible shed and pathways will make the Sunshine Garden accessible for all ages and abilities.
Plots have been reserved for children in the community with partnerships made with Fulton Place Childcare Association, Capilano Playschool and Hardisty School. These organizations will implement programs that will further teach children about gardening and how food is grown.
After over a year of planning, raising funds, finding sponsors and organizing volunteers, the Sunshine Garden was complete and ready for planting in early May.
“We were truly amazed at all the volunteers and organizations that came out to all of our build days to make this garden a reality,” shared Prokopuk. Local hardware stores, contractors, colleges, corporations and community groups came out in droves to offer funding, supplies and plenty of labour.
“We have a lot of young families and seniors in our community. We wanted to make a garden that reaches out to all members of the community and gives them a central meeting place to grow their own food and make new friendships.”
This idea follows the unofficial mantra of the Sunshine Garden: “Growing community together by growing a garden together!”