August 5, 2020

By KAREN HAYNES

Plant it, water it and watch it grow. 
Conestoga Acres (CA), a grassroots gardening project, will give Conestoga’s students and faculty the opportunity to do just that. 
The project, expected to start in April 2012, will bring together the college community in a hands-on learning environment that teaches sustainable gardening and food production, said Jana Vodicka, an environmental co-ordinator at Conestoga College.
 “The project is meant to encourage sustainability, in our economy, environment and community,” said Vodicka. So, while the vegetables grown in the garden are yet to be determined, their destinations have been designated.
“Roughly 30 per cent of the produce will be divided amongst CA’s volunteers, 30 per cent will be used by the college in its culinary and food processing programs and 30 per cent will be donated to the food bank.”
CA will be a pesticide- and herbicide-free garden, according to the project’s reference report.  Also, participants will make conscious efforts to minimize water usage and maximize composting practices.
Volunteers are needed during gardening season for a minimum of two hours per week to care for the vegetable garden.  In addition, the project needs donated garden tools, including seeds and fertilizer, before April 2012.
Other important items are shovels, hoes, trowels and rakes; composters, wheelbarrows, gloves and watering cans; two picnic tables, a tool shed and a shade canopy.
The 27-metre by 23-metre garden will sit in the northwest corner of the college’s Cambridge campus. The land has already been tilled in preparation for April 2012, said Vodicka.
Conestoga Acres is depending greatly on community donations and potential grants to ensure its operability. Although Conestoga Students Inc. (CSI) is not funding the project, it has applied to the Waterloo Region for a municipal grant on behalf of CA, said Zoey Ross, Conestoga’s director of sustainability.
The future of CA is bright as Vodicka envisions a greenhouse and inviting sitting area being incorporated into the garden’s design. Also, it is likely CSI will take the project under its umbrella once it has gotten off the ground this coming summer, said Ross.
Contact Vodicka at ext. 2406 for more information and a complete list of needed materials.