Fort Calgary reviving award-winning garden after five years

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Fort Calgary is restoring its community garden in a way that introduces Indigenous food practices so they’ll have plenty of fresh food to donate to local charities.

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Five years ago, the local landmark bulldozed its award-winning garden, which was located at the northeast end of Fort Calgary National Historic Site. It’s being resurrected this spring in the same 900-square-metre space.

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Bringing the garden back to life was a priority for Fort Calgary’s new president Jennifer Thompson.

“It’s no secret that folks were hurt when the garden was bulldozed in 2018 — of course they were,” said Thompson. “Public support and input are everything for the future of Fort Calgary, and reviving the garden is one aspect of our plans to mend and strengthen relationships with the community.”

Garden partnering with Indigenous knowledge holders

Unlike regular community gardens, Fort Calgary’s garden won’t have plots to rent but will be cultivated as a whole, with herbs, fruit bushes and raised beds for vegetables.

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Lindsie Bruns, Fort Calgary programming director, is leading the garden project and partnering with Indigenous knowledge holders to choose what to plant.

“We will plant a combination of native perennials, hardy vegetables and other plants with cultural and historical significance to this location,” said Bruns.

Groundbreaking scheduled for Earth Day

When the garden was razed in 2018, Fort Calgary released a statement to address concerns from the community.

“We understand and respect the impact and legacy the garden has in the surrounding communities since its creation,” the fort said in June 2018.

In a Thursday news release, Fort Calgary said the revived garden will “aspire to unite the community, honour the land and share historical and decolonized perspectives on the environment.”

Fort Calgary is inviting the community to visit the garden to volunteer, learn as part of youth and public programming or enjoy the inner-city biodiversity.

A groundbreaking event for the garden is scheduled for Earth Day on April 22, but Fort Calgary is already seeking volunteers to work in the garden and donations to fund the project.

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The Fort Calgary community garden grows behind the reconstructed fort building on Sept. 7, 2016.
The Fort Calgary community garden grows behind the reconstructed fort building on Sept. 7, 2016. Photo by Gavin Young /Postmedia