The Germinator – 2nd Edition

Summer is finally here! The days are longer and warmer, we’ve all been waiting for what seems like so long. Many gardeners have planted their seeds and seedlings, but there is still time to get your garden going. In our latest newsletter, Ursula gives tips on transplanting seedlings. The weeds seem to be the first crop this year, and if you’d like to make better use out of these pesky plants, check out a recipe for pesto made with dandelion greens. For details as well as community garden and farmer’s market updates, check out our second edition newsletter here:

JLFS June Newsletter

The first market will be happening this month on the last Wednesday of June (25). The market will be trying out a new location this year at the McCready Centre in the United Church parking lot. This location is larger than the former yet wonderful space at the Jasper Legion, and has a nice central location close to downtown and that is accessible to seniors. The McCready Centre also has space indoors for foul weather days. We’re hoping for sunshine for our market season opener. There are new and returning vendors this year so do not miss the first market!




The Germinator

to begin to grow or develop;
to develop into a plant or individual, as a seed, spore, or bulb;
to put forth shoots; sprout;
to come into existence; begin.

The first edition of The Germinator is out! The goal of this monthly newsletter is to inform JLFS members of upcoming society and market activities and events; to share information about gardening, cultivation, food sustainability, and local food initiatives; and to promote cooking at home by sharing recipes that include locally available ingredients.

Anyone is able to contribute to the content of this newsletter and we encourage members and garden plot holders to contribute as a way to give volunteer hours to the JLFS. Submissions should be sent to by the 25th day of the month in order to be included in the upcoming newsletter. Ideas for stories, recipes, or topics are welcome as well as suggestions for additional content. Content should be clear and concise as the newsletter is a two page document.

Take a look! JLFS April Newsletter

Rabble’s Eat Local! Food and Sustainability Challenge

Harvest time is coming. It’s the perfect time to think about where your food comes from, and how you manage your harvest-time abundance. It is encouraging to see that the same motivations that led us to establish the Local Food Society, have led the folks at to declare a new challenge:  Eat Local for a week, and share your stories about that experience.

The challenge:

“We encourage you to eat local as much as you can during this week-long challenge with our rabble staff and contributors. Add some farm-fresh broccoli and lettuce or maybe some homegrown herbs to your plate. Or maybe even go all out and give up the coffee, purchase some farm-fresh meats and cheeses and try to cut your own asparagus!”

The challenge starts on Sept 29th, and finishes on October 6th.  There is a Babble thread set up for participants to share food stories, ideas for eating local and encouraging local food sustainability. Living in a national park means we have some challenges to eating local that other Canadians do not face — our local farmers are outside the park gates.  But we have many food-gardeners in town, not to mention the growers at the Community Gardens on Connaught. So, if you are feeling loquacious as well as locavore-ish, we encourage you to share your Rocky Mountain Eating Local experiences on Babble and here in our comments section, too. We can’t wait to see how the challenge goes!



PS: If you are one of the people who attended our Weed Walk, or used our recipe for Dandelion root-coffee, then you’re laughing!

2013 AGM Brings a New Board

2012 was a year devoted to consolidating our Society’s activities, especially the community garden and farmers’ market. It was a year for helping the membership of the JLFS settle in to our roles. With our big building projects done, our roots are established. Now we’re at the stage of  thinking about how to nurture our soil, and decide what new goals to aim for. It is a good time for a new generation of leaders.

With these thoughts in mind, Co-Chairs and JLFS founding members Ursula Winkler and Heather Young-Leslie announced they would not be standing for election for the 2013 season.  Tiffany Toussaint, our excellent secretary for the past two years, and Kim Forster, the Garden Coordinator for 2013, both have other projects they want to focus on in 2013.  Karl Peetoom, Treasurer in 2012, decided he’d be happy to continue managing the membership sign-ups, but not act as Treasurer.


With so many board positions going vacant, we were all a bit leery about the viability of the JLFS – would there be enough members willing to step into the leadership positions?  We needn’t have worried.  At the AGM on Feb 21st,  some 30 JLFS members came out to nominate and acclaim several new board members.  We now have a board with lots of fresh blood, and just enough past members to retain institutional memory.  Continuing board members are Noriko Stevens, Jeanine D’Antonio, and Paula Klasson.  Tracy McKay, a founding member of the JLFS, returns to the Board after a two year hiatus.

The full board of the JLFS, 2013 – 2014 are: 

Co-Chairs: Julie Desbecquets and Chelsea McBride

Treasurer: Shelly Templeton

Secretary: Tracy McKay

Communications: Bob Covey

Community Garden Coordinator: Sarah Peterson

Farmers’ Market Coordinator: Noriko Stevens

School Liaison: Jeanine D’Antonio

Fundraising / Grants Coordinator: Bob Covey

Education Coordinator: Paula Klasson

Thanks to everyone who came to the AGM!

Edible Weeds

Dandelions! Everyone is talking about dandelions.  Despite their sunny yellow colour, or the magical fairy-dust way they spread their seeds, they’re pretty unpopular.  Weed! people say, as if ‘weed’ was an epithet.  But ‘weed’ leads to talk about herbicides; which is scarier?

My grandmother used to say “a weed is just a plant growing where you don’t want it”.  Dandelions, and other so-called weeds, are unpopular precisely because they are so easy to grow, so successful in their adaptation to marginal or damaged soils, and so good at out-competing the plants we deem desirable.  They’re hugely under-appreciated.  As the famous quote from Andrew Mason goes: “If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn.”  Indeed,  dandelions, and many other ‘weeds’ are actually beneficial. If we only knew how to use them, perhaps our thoughts would turn less to herbicides and more to harvesting.

With these ideas in play,  the Jasper Municipal Library‘s programming coordinator came to the JFS with a proposal. Janeen Keelan wondered if we would like to partner with the library to offer an Edible Weed Walk.   “Wow” we said, “what a great idea. YES!”   We set the date for June 6th, from 6-7pm.  Despite being in the middle of June Monsoon time in Jasper, we had a fantastic turnout.  Twelve (12!!) people turned up to walk around Jasper townsite — in the sometimes driving rain — to look at the weeds and to learn about weeds that we can eat.

Our Weed Walkers came from the EU, UK, USA and Jasper itself. One was a chef — hoping perhaps to learn how to exoticise the local food content of his menu?

We made up a hand-out with nutiritonal information and recipes using locally available, edible weeds.  Check it out below.  Janeen took pictures.  Enjoy, and post some feedback if you try the recipies.  If you make Dandelion Root Coffee, invite us over!

Folks from the EU, UK, USA & Jasper braved the rain and wind  to attend Jasper’s first Edible Weed Walk.

Ursula Winkler. Boots by Lisa Winkler.

Harvest Wisely!!

Seedy Saturday

For at least  11,000 years, people have been saving seeds. We called those seed savers and planters clan mothers,  medicine men, priests and eventually, gardeners and farmers.  Farmers were responsible for nurturing their crop, and saving the best seeds from that crop to plant in subsequent year.  Over the last fifty or sixty years, as agriculture and horticulture has become more and more commercialized, and as agribusiness has expanded to include the chemical inputs designed to maximise production,  seeds have become part of an industrialized agriculture. Over the last decade, the  commercial seeds market has been dominated by a handful of transnational companies.

None of this is particularly problematic, except that the process has included dramatic reductions in the breadth of seed varieties commercially available. That’s bad for biodiversity, which is very bad for the ecosystem. The other problem is that industrialized, bio-engineered seeds are now being produced that may not produce plants that will themselves be fertile and provide viable seeds. No one really worried about that when it was seedless oranges. But now… plants whose seeds we like to eat as ‘grains’ may not produce seeds that farmers can save and replant.  That is very bothersome!

Seed exchange events emerged as a form of community-based resistance to the industrialization of seeds, in order to preserve local biodiversity and heritage plants.  The first was held on a Sunday in Brighton, England. It is the longest running Seedy Sunday. In Canada, heritage seed advocate Sharon Rempel initiated the first Seedy Saturday at the Van Dusen Botanical Garden in 1990. Now there are Seedy Saturdays all over the country!

Jasper’s FIRST Seedy Saturday is Today.  It will be small, but so are all seeds. They grow into magnificent things.  So, we hope, will we.

Define “Challenge”? Getting local food on the menus in Jasper National Park

We all lost an hour of sleep last weekend.  Semi-traumatic as that was,  it means that spring really is coming. The Community Gardens may be covered with snow yet, but many of us have started our seeds. My neighbour the Tomato Guru has his dining room table covered in milk containers that have been recycled into seedling planters for tomatoes. They’re all labeled: Early Girl, Best Boy, Tumblers…  in a month, the little seedlings will be out in his greenhouse, reaching for the sun.

The other thing that we are reminded of when we turn our clocks forward  is the JLFS’s annual Locavore Days.   This year is extra special because we’ve teamed up with the Jasper Municipal Library, which celebrates Nutrition Month every March.  Kudos to Paula Klassen, one of the founding inspirers of the JLFS, for the stellar Locavore Days organization, and to Janeen Keelan, JLFS member and librarian, for the Library’s cool events, and for the great poster!

The  events begin on Thursday,  March 15th, with a public panel discussion on the challenges –and successes– for having local foods on menus in a national park.  Jasper’s restauranteurs have some real challenges:  as an international destination, cuisine expectations are high.  That means a range of foods not from anywhere near Jasper. At the same time, local, or at least regional cuisine is esteemed.  But we are in the middle of a wildlife preserve where the people footprint is constrained and nothing can be harvested. With our closest food producers are at least 100km from the park gates, the 100-mile diet just doesn’t work here! Yet we are having some successes.  So for our Locavore kick-off event,  some of Jasper’s star chefs, our local brewer, and a bee-keeper will gather at our local brew pub, to share their challenges, successes and dreams for a local food system for Jasper. Ingenuity consultant and LEAF auditor Melissa Scaman will act as discussant for the panel, and Jasper’s Environmental Stewardship Coordinator Janet Cooper will describe the commercial composting program (fueled by food waste).

It will be an evening of thinking about how food service businesses can be more environmentally responsible and improve the local food system. It’s also a time for celebrating the successes we are having.

And we’ll probably have a pint (or two) of the locally brewed beer.

2011: Rising to the Challenge

Report of the JLFS, 2011. Presented to the Annual General Meeting, Jan 14, 2012, at the Habitat for the Arts. Turnout at the meeting was excellent, with several new members signed up, and new people elected to postions on the executive.


This was the second year of the Jasper Local Food Society, one in which a number of challenges were met.  Some Key Achievements, as outlined in the presentation, included:

Community Garden

•From 23 to 51 plots!
•Permanent split-rail fencing erected!
•Food Bank, Sustainability Club & Children’s plots

Farmers Market

•Alberta Farmers Market designation achieved
•Market Manager training
•Organic & local foods & arts


•5-year plan drafted!
•Less hierarchical governance structure

Grants & Awards

•Servus: $1000 (Fencing)
•Municipality: $1540 (Picnic, Panels, Banners)


•Environmental Stewardship Awardees: JLFS & Ursula Winkler!
•Secret Garden Tour
•Communities in Bloom visit
•Park Visitors Love it
Our plans for 2012 are equally ambitious, and exciting. See the attached file for the full presentation, including an addendum listing the newly elected board members.
Stay tuned for details about the 2012  Locavore Week (Save the Date: Feb 23 – 25).
Happy Growing!


Fundraising. One of the fastest growing occupations. It can be quite fun, especially when you’re successful.

JLFS has done pretty well with small grants – Servus Credit Union and the Municipality of Jasper have been our biggest benefactors, but lots of local people and businesses have donated or discounted items like tools or garden supplies. So we don’t complain. As a Not-For-Profit, we don’t want to be rich. We just want enough to cover community needs and our dreams for how our various projects can be more creative, more fun, more productive.

So what do we need to raise money for right now? Here is a list of what we hope to achieve in 2012:

For the Community Garden on Connaught:
1] Set up a picnicking area with locally made table and stool/chairs. We’re dreaming of a mosaic topped table and hefty log-chairs, suitable for outdoor Rocky Mountain weather.
2] Informational Display Panels documenting the history of market gardening and local food growing in Jasper.
3] A small greenhouse like one of these on The Green Lever’s blog.
4] Seedings for decorative planting along the fence line.

For the Farmers’ Market:
1] Canopies for local vendors like the church and hospital auxiliaries, and a small coffee seating area, so all can be protected from inclement weather.
2] Vinyl Banners and sandwich boards to make the Farmers’ Market site more visible and more arty.
3] Annual Liability Insurance for the Farmers’ Market lot at the Legion: Costs us $500/yr and is a requirement for maintaining our Alberta Farmer’s Market designation.

We also need money for the logistics for our Locovore Week and Seedy Saturday, planned for the third week of February. And there will be things we don’t yet anticipate for the Garden-Share/Adopt-a-Gardener and School Garden programs.

So, we need to raise more money! Next opportunity: the annual Jasper Municipality Christmas Party.

Last year, JLFS volunteers managed the coat check for the Municipality’s Christmas Party. We made about $500.00. And we had a ball!

So we are doing it again. This year the party is on Dec 16, at the Activity Centre. We need a minimum of 13 people to cover the following shifts:

5:30pm to 8pm: Five People needed
8pm to 11 pm: Three People needed
11pm to Midnight+: Five People needed

Contact us at our email: jasperlocalfood[at]gmail.[you know the rest] to select your preferred shift. The sooner you write, the better the odds of having the shift you prefer.

But no matter which shift you work, you’re guaranteed to have FUN while raising fund$. Ursula promises some treats (and you know what a fabulous baker she is). We manage a bit of Christmas Cheer too. And there will be the warm glow that comes from giving the foundations of our Local Food Society deeper roots. Guaranteed.

Happy Growing!

Communities in Bloom Evaluation

In mid-July of this year, Diane Clasen and Gerry Teahen of the National Communities in Bloom evaluation team visited Jasper. Last year Jasper won top honours (5 Blooms) in the provincial competition and qualified to enter nationally. This year we won 4 Blooms, with a score of 79.3%.

With permission of the local C-in-B coordinator, Gerry Lettner, we’re posting the entire evaluation (click here). It’s an interesting read.

The C-in-B committee had some great things to say about Jasper as a whole. They noticed that some businesses really participate in beautification, and they commended us for natural plant landscaping and dedication to environmental stewardship. They liked the projects initiated by the JLFS, including the spin-off community gardens in town and at the Jasper Park Lodge.

According to C-in-B there are a few areas that Jasper as a town can improve – our commitment to heritage plants, and the Museum, could be better profiled. They didn’t recognize how much the town runs on volunteers, so we can profile that better next year. However, the JLFS would disagree with the C-in-B evaluators’ suggestion that the Municipality provide incentive for more floral displays by endorsing the C-in-B/Scott’s Miracle Gro contest. Instead of promoting a company whose products could be argued to damage the land (even the so-called ‘organic’ one), and do not fit within the ethos of permaculture and 100-mile-radius product sourcing, why not have a contest for the tastiest, most productive Edible Landscape?!

Congratulations to the local C-in-B committee and thanks for all the hard work. Well done to rank so highly in our first national entry! We love having the Communities in Bloom committee members here; it’s wonderful having their insights. But we think they could learn a bit from Jasperites about environmental stewardship too!

Fall Back, Think Ahead

The Gardens are put to sleep, but the JLFS is not: we have good news coming soon about a grant application, which we’ll share at the upcoming movie night on seed saving (Nov 16). So, as you turn back your clocks and just before you cosy up in bed tonight, watch this little slide show and think ahead to next year’s garden. Sweet dreams!

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Tricksey Treats


The frost is definitely on the pumpkins

Hallowe’en is upon us

  Samhain is the Gaelic term for the seasonal festival that we now call All Hallows’ Evening, shortened to Hallowe’en. In the Celtic calendar, it was the end of the year, the border between the year that was and the year that will be, the time when all things die so that they can be reborn. This annual rupture in the time-life continuum meant life-forms normally barred from our reality – ghosts and ghouls for example – could slip through and be temporarily visible to us. Interact with us. This is where we get our traditions of offering treats to unearthly creatures, so that they won’t play tricks on us. In Catholic-influenced cultures, the same shift is celebrated as  All Souls Day – when our dearly departed return, and when everyone puts out an extra place-setting for the family dinner on November 2nd. In Mexico the Day of the Dead precedes All Souls, and is celebrated with sugar skulls and candied pumpkin. The thinking is the same – appease the potentially scary beings with treats.

Now-a-days, Hallowe’en is a time when we take pleasure in being frightened. It’s is a time when the tricks are the treats too. Whether you subscribe to the Celtic, Latin or any other tradition, it seems the right time to consider scary stuff; some of the tricks –and treats – of a community garden.

What’s scared me most this year has been the wastage of food. For example, our big challenge this week is to get those last straggling gardeners to harvest the remainder of their food. Under our agreement with the Municipality, the community garden plots must be cleaned out by Oct 31st. Most people have done so, though to a great extent that involved dumping edibles into the compost piles. Really; it’s harvest time, and people are throwing away their harvest.

Actually, it’s not just this month. Regularly over this summer, I’ve been able to dine from what others threw into the compost pile: beet greens, baby carrots, turnips, broccoli, potatoes, kale. In fact, I grew potatoes from plants found in the compost bin. It’s not that I have low standards. I just feel bad about wasting food. Perhaps it was all those famine appeals I’ve grown up with, ever since those “starving children in Biafra” my mother used to encourage me to finish my liver and onions. More likely it was living through a drought in 1992, and depending on what I grew that has given me a healthier than average fear of food wastage. By the way, I used those potatoes, and beets similarly rescued from the composter, to make my Thanksgiving meal of potato-borscht soup and roasted beets on polenta with a balsamic reduction. Now that was a treat!

Yet how scarily ironic, that people who joined a Local Food Society because they worried about food quality, food security or food sovereignty, people who tended plants in their own little 8×4 raised bed, would then permit edible, fresh, mountain-grown food to bolt or freeze. More than scary, it seems downright evil that the treats given to us so freely –the sunlight, the soil, the water, the magic that generates little seeds into edible plants– could be abandoned, ignored, left unappreciated, unacknowledged, uneaten. Is it that we are too rich? Too used to buying food? Too afflicted with Nature-Deficit Disorder? Too busy? Too lazy? How else to explain people abandoning sweet baby carrots, green onions, Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, broccoli, kale, mint, oregano, savoury? We are supposed to be living in a world more conscious of the environment, more aware that we have a responsibility to give back to the ecosystem that supports us. But other things get in the way – school starts in September; people go on vacation in October and November; sports like hockey start. Our lives get too busy to show respect for the gift of bounty that our gardens gave us. It’s too easy to fall back on imported store bought foods. We don’t save our harvest. We don’t even save the seeds for next year. Scary monsters!

Something else scares me. We asked for, and the Municipality was decent enough to give us, soil now to top up our gardens, and be ready to plant at our leisure in the spring. This gives us a great advantage for expanding our growing season and productivity next year. Two weeks ago we sent out a call, and some gardeners came, put wheelbarrow loads into boxes –-their own and others that looked low too. But there are still more that need topping-up, and there is still soil left. So we resort to last-minute pleas: “Let’s not betray the Municipality’s generosity. If you haven’t done so already, go to the garden today, and put some soil in your box – or in any box that you see is not completely full” . I’m scared that come the Day of the Dead, there will still be soil, waiting to be distributed. What is scary about this? It’s the fear that our dream to “build community one garden at a time” might not succeed.

Actually, I believe we are just still learning: A Community Garden ethos says, whether you think you will be returning to the garden next year or not, you truck soil, top-up your box, and those of your neighbours too. If you are going out of town, you contact someone to go and do your harvesting for you, or to dig what’s left in your box into the soil as compost for next season. You nourish the garden that gave pleasure (and food) over the past summer. You respect the gifts of bounty by eating them. What a treat when that happens! It’s a trick to get there though.

Yes, it’s tricky, getting 50 people, many of whom are new gardeners, to think beyond the edge of their raised bed, beyond the growing season, beyond their individual pressures. But that’s the beauty of Samhain. The old dies, the new is born. We start again. The tricks become the treats to which we look forward. The challenge of building community one garden at a time will be something, that someday, we will look back on with pride. A ghoul will become an ancestor, so to speak. And so as All Hallows Eve rolls over into the Day of the Dead, I’ll be putting out a plate of treats for the Shades who come to visit. Maybe a cake made with late-harvest carrots. Or a pesto made with bolted romaine, kale, green onions and sunflower seeds. I’ll be assuaging my current fears with the pleasures of tricky treats yet to come. Boo!

Harvesting What We’ve Sown

It’s harvest time. The time to reap what you’ve sown. If you’re a food grower, a gardener, it’s a time to celebrate, feast and also to reflect and plan for the next season.

The past few months have been very busy for us here in Jasper. Our Local Food Society accomplished a lot, most significantly, relocating the community garden to Connaught Ave, expanding from 23 to 51 garden plots, planting the beautiful split rail fence and growing luscious food despite a mostly wet and cloudy summer. Oh, and we won an Environmental Stewardship Award. We talked to a lot of visitors to the Park, who seemed delighted to find a community garden on the main street, and loved being reminded that Jasper is a community, not a ‘tourist town’. Finally, after tidying up the gardens in preparation for the winter, we held a Harvest Dinner and shared foods we grew ourselves with our neighbours. What a feast that was – for soul, heart and palate!

In the mood of celebration, here is a happy video created by Chantal Solomon, Cory Fleck, Murielle Faifman and Mike Von Vosson at the Reel Youth’s Film Camp this year, on Cortes Island, British Columbia. What an inspirational group! It’s called Food For Thought. We’d love your thoughts on this clever and sweet little film!


Earth Day Hometown Heroes? We’re blushing….

There is still snow on the ground –lots of it, in fact—but we are thinking spring. Locovore week was a great kick-off, with gardeners gathering to talk about, well, gardening, and  a visit from our grower friends from the Robson Valley. They excited the chefs working in some of Jasper’s best restaurants with the potential for including locally grown organic vegetables and heritage grains in their five-star menus (not to mention at our Farmers’ Market). Nutters is taking orders now for organic seeds, and a couple of weeks ago, a some of us attended a Seedy Saturday event in Prince George, where we were able to buy heritage Canadian vegetable seeds. Some ardent gardeners are already setting out flats of tomato seeds near windows, taking advantage of the lengthening daylight hours. March may have come in like a lion, and it may still be phenomenal skiing out there, but April is coming. And that means Earth Day is on the horizon.

Every April 22, the world’s communities join to raise environmental awareness. There are approximately one billion people in 170 countries who now celebrate International Earth Day.  The Earth Day movement has helped ensure political will for the support of issues such as clean air and water, climate change, biodiversity, species loss and environmental protection legislation. The first Earth Day occurred in 1970: Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelson, plus about 20 million participants organized by then university student Denis Hayes, set-up ‘teach-ins’ to raise awareness on environmental pollution. That event gave the USA’s Congress the kick in the pants necessary to pass clean air and water acts, and to establish the Environmental Protection Agency, the Council on Environmental Quality and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In 1990, Denis Hayes organized the first International Earth Day. Canada was one of those original 140 countries to join the celebration. It’s sad that more people don’t know about Denis Hayes, who Time Magazine named “Hero of the Planet” in 1999. We can recomend his book: Rays of Hope: The Transition to a Post-Petroleum World.

Earth Day Canada is our national environmental communications organization, and a charitable status organization, mandated to improve the state of the environment by empowering Canadians to achieve local solutions. Earth Day Canada was established in 1991, and ever since then has been coordinating Earth Day and Earth Month events. They also help establish community programs and artistic and media projects. One of their programs, perhaps inspired by Denis Hayes’ example, is the Hometown Heroes Awards. There are three award categories: Individual, Group and Small Business. In Earth Day Canada’s eyes. Hometown Heroes educate and/or empower community members to support a healthier environment, carry-out not-for-profit environmental efforts with notable accomplishments that have resulted in continuous, long-term and sustainable impacts within local communities, and demonstrate outstanding environmental leadership, commitment and achievements in local communities. They’re pretty special people, and if selected, they win a cash prize of $10,000.  Guess what? Jasper Local Food Society has been nominated! Gee, we’re blushing. The award winners will be announced in April. With permission, we’re publishing the nomination letter here:

Nomination of Jasper Local Food Society

for the Earth Day Hometown Hero’s award

The Jasper Local Food Society is a not for profit volunteer group made up of concerned community members. Their goals are to provide residents with opportunities and access to plots in which to plant and grow their own produce, to increase local food awareness, to stimulate the economy and provide opportunities for an economically depressed area,  to decrease the global food footprint, and provide residents and visitors with access to locally grown organic food. Since their formation in the spring of 2010 this small but vital group has been able to initiate all phases of this project.

Jasper is a small mountain town of 4500 residents situated in Jasper National Park. The town and park are a very popular tourist destination for Canadians and visitors from around the world. Although many of the visitors to Jasper are fairly well off, the majority of Jasper’s residents earn low wages working in the service industry. Many also live in apartments or suites and do not have access to gardens to grow their own food. Jasper is also situated a long way up the “food distribution” line and many of the items appearing in the local grocery or restaurant tables have a high price tag and have travelled a long distance. The Robson valley is situated along the Fraser River approximately 90 km west of Jasper. There are several small towns (Valemount, Dunster and McBride) in the valley as well as a wide variety of residents living on rural properties. It is an area that has fallen on hard economic times over the past years with mill closures and lay offs in the resource industry. Unemployment is high but residents have access to productive land, a milder climate and a growing season approximately 6 weeks longer than Jasper’s.

The initial phase of the project focussed on providing gardening space for residents who did not have access to a garden. Posters and articles were written and interested folks were gathered. The Jasper Local Food Society approached the municipality asking for access to public land and a site was selected.  Work-bees were scheduled, raised beds built, soil mixed, compost added, fences built to keep out the resident wildlife and a community garden was born. Lotteries were held to determine who the lucky gardeners would be. Additional beds were constructed and set up at the local elementary and Francophone schools to be tended by students. While tending their “garden” students became more food aware and learned about their environment. Additional spin-offs included a  “Peas Soup” day event to commemorate World Peace Day involving a lunch created by students using ingredients grown in their school garden.

The second phase was a project called “have a garden-share a garden” This project involved matching seniors or residents who had gardens but were no longer able to care for them with members of the community who were eager to try out their green thumbs. The willing members were then able to have access to a garden in exchange for sharing some of the produce with the resident. This also had the additional community building benefit of connecting local seniors with younger members of the community.

The third phase of the project involved the establishment of a locally grown source of produce closer to home than where our present produce comes from. The Jasper Local Food society approached several of their farmer friends in the Robson Valley with a proposition. If they would be able to supply a steady source of produce, there would be a ready market for it just across the border in Jasper. These folks talked it up and soon the “Robson Valley Growers Association” was formed. The “Growers” have organized themselves to plant more land, schedule crops, and coordinate supply and delivery to Jasper.

Every good garden needs a market and the fourth phase was the development of the weekly Jasper Farmers Market.  The market provided a ready source of sales for the Robson Valley Growers from June to Sept and most importantly provided local Jasper residents and visitors with access to locally grown organic produce and eggs. The market also provided a venue for local artisans and bakeries. The Robson Valley Growers were also able to enter into contracts to provide local restaurants with locally grown produce during the summer.

All projects have barriers to overcome and this was no different.  Jasper is situated in the middle of a National Park which dictates environmental policy. The townsite is also governed by a municipality. Many layers of negotiation with various layers of government were required to get access to community lands and ensure that the gardens would not be attractants for local wildlife. Initially some doubted need or desire (although there is now an ever growing waiting list for gardens), some felt that there would be vandalism (society trusted in positive community spirit and there has been no vandalism to date)and there was even a petition from a resident opposing the inclusion of a community garden in their neighbourhood (the classic it’s a great idea BUT “Not in My Backyard”) In the end all were won over and the project got off the ground.

The impact and benefit of this group on the community has been very impressive. They have provided residents with access to garden plots in which to grow their own produce. The interactions between seniors and younger members of the community have improved through the share garden program. Youth have become more aware of local food issues and following the path from garden to table. Local residents have access to locally grown organic produce at the farmers market supplied from the Robson valley which has travelled a far shorter distance from field to table. Residents of the Robson Valley have found an opportunity to get a financial return from their land and help earn a living in difficult economic times. Restaurants are able to offer “locally grown organic” produce on their menus.  And finally, visitors to the community have the opportunity share in the bounty at the farmers market, learn about local food issues and take home messages to their own communities about what can be done locally by a determined group.

While all the candidates initiatives have been impressive, I feel that the most notable environmental initiative that fostered healthier and more sustainable communities would have to be the establishment of the relationship which resulted in the founding of the Robson Valley Growers and the Jasper farmers market. This portion of the project had several key benefits which affected both Jasper and it’s neighboring communities. Firstly it provided an economic opportunity for folks living in the Robson Valley. It provided them with a chance to make a living on their land without having to leave to seek employment elsewhere. It provided an opportunity for organic fruits and vegetables to be grown in the Robson Valley and collectively transported to Jasper, greatly reducing the global footprint and environmental impact of getting food from the field to Jasper’s table. The farmers market provided residents with weekly access to freshly grown local produce. This portion of the project also helped to raise residents’ local food awareness and established friendships and relationships between producer and consumer. Having access to freshly harvested local produce was greatly appreciated by local residents and restaurants and in many cases inspired people to sign up for community garden plots next year. International visitors to the Jasper farmers market were told the history of the market by vendors and residents and the message was potentially carried to communities around the world.

This was all accomplished within a whirl-wind 4 months from brainstorm to first farmers market. It is a constantly evolving process and continues to grow.

All projects have barriers or obstacles to overcome and this was no different.  This project faced hurdles and learning challenges including negotiation with many layers of government or bureaucracy, finding and securing a market site, working harmoniously with existing local businesses, complying with business licencing and municipal bylaws, wildlife considerations, coordinating market deliveries to reduce carbon footprint, cross border licencing, farmers market and food inspection regulations,

Overall, it has been wonderfully received and supported by the community. This project has brought together federal and municipal government, area residents, youth and seniors, service groups such as the Legion, Lions Club and the Rotary, has established a relationship between residents of Jasper and the Robson Valley, and has raised awareness of local food issues for local youth, residents and visitors.

Benefits of the Jasper Local Food Society’s Community Garden Project include:

  • providing local residents with access to gardens to grow their own food;
  • encouraging community building and interaction between residents;
  • providing a role and contact for local seniors;
  • providing economic opportunities for residents of the Robson Valley (an area facing tough economic times);
  • providing a source of organic locally grown food within a 100 mile radius of Jasper (the farmers market);
  • Providing locally grown organic produce for area restaurants;
  • decreasing the global food footprint (shorter distance from field to table);
  • increasing local food awareness for residents and visitors and
  • educating youth through school garden plots/curriculum inclusion.

After year 1, the project is still in it’s infancy and continues to grow ( it is difficult to state that at this point that it has continuous, long term sustainable impacts) but… The “have-a-garden-share-a garden” continues to expand. The main focus in upcoming years is to continue ongoing negotiations with the municipality of Jasper to establish new areas for community garden beds to meet the ever growing waiting list of participants. The association with the Robson Valley Growers has been successful economically and continues to expand. Growers are planting increasing acreage and additional varieties for next year. Local restaurants have been approached about purchasing weekly amounts of produce. The response from residents to the farmers market has been phenomenal and all indications seem to point toward a long term, sustainable impact on Jaspers local food supply. To bolster long term sustainability, the Jasper Local Food Society is considering directing funds towards establishing a scholarship for youth in the Robson Valley for studying sustainable agriculture. A further indication of long term impacts is that the group has been approached by the local library who is planning a renovation. The library would like to incorporate gardens within their landscaping plans which would assist the community and would help the library to attain LEEDs status for their new building. There has been a concerted effort by the group to ensure that this is a community driven and supported initiative which will help to ensure its long term survival and sustainability (rather than being a personality driven initiative which often fail as organizers burn out or move on). The candidate is still working to complete the initiative and should they win the award would use the proceeds to purchase material for construction of additional beds, fencing supplies, shelters for market venders and educational initiatives.

Isn’t that nice? Winning the prize would be wonderful. We could do amazing things with that $10,000. But but just the fact that someone(s) in Jasper thought to nominate us is reward in itself. It speaks to the fact that Jasperites care — a lot — about our community and our environment.  Happy Growing!

Locavore Week in Jasper! March 8 – 10, 2011

A locavore is someone who tries to eat locally grown or produced food instead of food that has traveled long distances to market. You may have heard of the “100 Mile Diet?” The idea of eating food produced within one hundred miles of where you live is a rough guideline: there is much more to being a locavore.

Locavores are enthusiastic about the pleasures of growing and eating our own food. We’re equally concerned with issues of food security and quality, the sustainability of our community and local economy, the ethics of assembly-line food production, and the ecological impacts of global agro-business and exporting.

The Jasper Local Food Society (JLFS) is organising a week of events to celebrate our love of food and gardening, raise awareness about eating local, and get us all ready for planting season.  Join us for some great discussions on local food growing, eating and enjoying! JLFS memberships will also be available for purchase.

All sessions begin at 7pm, at the Habitat for the Arts, Provincial Building on Patricia St (the old courthouse).

Tuesday, March 8: Think Spring!

Get ready for growing season. JLFS is partnering with the Jasper Gardening Club to bring you a question and answer session with local gardening gurus Gord Ruddy, Quinto Odorizzi and Rita Odorizzi. We expect a few surprise gurus to drop in too.  These are the folks who know about gardening in Jasper. You’ve probably lusted after their tomatoes – well, come out and pick up a few magical tips to help you prepare your most amazing garden yet!

Wednesday, March 9: From Field to Market

This is your chance to meet your local farmers! Members of the Robson Valley Growers Association will share their vision for the 2011 growing season. Come learn what they are planting, the politics of organic and heritage food growing, and other local food initiatives. In addition, the Jasper Local Food Society will be presenting information about this summer’s Farmers’ Market. So if you liked the market last year, or are thinking about becoming a vendor, this session is for you.

Thursday, March 10: Jasper Local Food Society’s Open Meeting

Open to past, future and potential members. This is a great venue to share ideas and find out how you can get involved! Learn more about local food initiatives in Jasper. Would you like to have a community garden plot this summer? Come to the meeting to learn the details of membership and community garden access.

Please tell your neighbours, workmates, family and Facebook friends! Come One, Come All!

Catching Up: Summer of 2010 in Review

During the months of June, July and August of 2010, the Jasper Local Food Society piloted a Community Garden, a set of School Gardens, a Garden-Share Program and a weekly Local Farmers’ Market. The project followed on a set of community-consultations and discussions with local organisations including Municipal Council, the Lions Club, the Rotarians, and the Jasper Library. With endorsement from Municipal Council, and support from the local community, the pilot project proved very popular, for Jasperites and for summer visitors.

The Community Garden provided 23 small (8ft x 4ft) raised-bed garden plots with organic soil. JLFS members and friends built the frames, erected a deer fence and laid out the Garden on land behind the Jasper Library. The gardens were assigned on a first-come, first-in basis. A nominal membership fee of $20 was charged. The main stipulation was that gardeners use natural, organic techniques, without pesticides or herbicides. The plots were planted, and varieties of vegetables were harvested. The Community Garden was featured in the Jasper Library’s Secret Garden Tour and was visited by the adjudicators for the Communities in Bloom competition. Harvest was celebrated with a dinner made by the community gardeners from food they grew themselves.

The School Gardens were trialled at the Jasper Elementary School and École Desrochers, with classes Kindergarten to grade 6. They provided teachers with opportunities for hands-on lessons in botany, biology, arithmetic, and food security. Teachers from other schools and grades have since approached the JLFS to ask about plots for their own classes.

The Garden-Share Program brought together people who had gardens in their yards but were no longer able to garden themselves, with people who wanted garden space.  The idea was to make sure that good garden soil was kept active and alive, and that people who loved gardens could share the love. One of the gardens was on land owned by the Lutheran Church. The wonderful garden was not being used, until one of our gardeners put in potatoes – and what a wonderful crop she harvested too!

The Local Farmers’ Market, with its ethic of “grow it, make it, or bake it” brought together vendors from Jasper and nearby food-growing areas (most within 150 miles of the park). Jasper residents and summer visitors were able to purchase a range of goods including seasonal fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs, eggs, breads and pastries, honey and handicrafts.

Networking & Local Support = Community-Building Success!

In general, the JLFS pilot project demonstrated the kind of networking and local support that underlies successful community-building initiatives. Jasper Municipal Council and employees provided the JLFS with in-kind support of soil and transport, and advice regarding permits and health requirements. Community members of all ages supported the pilot project with work bees, public presentations to Council, letters to the editor of the Fitzhugh, as managers and patrons of the Local Farmers’ Market. The partnership with the Jasper Library provided an ideal location that was mutually beneficial. Gardeners and visitors to the Garden enjoyed a central, easily accessed location, with a place to park bicycles, store garden tools, access water and toilets. It also provided Library patrons with a pleasant space for eating lunch.  Likewise, the partnership with the Royal Canadian Legion provided the Local Farmers’ Market with outdoor space, indoor toilets, and tables for the vendors’ use, and brought greater local awareness of the Legion’s changing role in the community. Finally, in addition to the school program, the JLFS cooperated with the nascent Jasper Gardening Club to teach JLFS members who were new to gardening how to grow foods in Jasper’s short growing season, how to compost, and how to make compost tea. In short, the pilot project fulfilled the JLFS’s moto “Growing Community, One Garden at a Time”.

There were some challenges. Securing a location for the Community Gardens was delayed, and that meant a late start for planting. Organizing the Local Farmers’ Market required a great deal of volunteer time. Lack of start-up funds meant the project was financed initially from members’ personal accounts. Vendors who had not anticipated coming to Jasper at planting time did not have enough produce to satisfy the unexpected demand. Logistical arrangements for the Farmers’ Market require refinement.

Overall, JLFS considers the pilot project to have been a success. Jasperites who would not otherwise have had access to garden foods grew their own vegetables, salad, herbs, and even berries. We have raised awareness on the value of community gardening and growing our own food within Jasper; spin-off gardens and potential for more, local, community gardens are now part of the town’s discourse (which is good, since construction of the expanded library means our gardens have to be relocated). Food producers from outside the park who took the risk to bring their produce to the Local Farmers’ Market were pleased with the effort. They generally sold out long before the official close of market; consequently they have made a commitment to plant more for this coming summer. Jasperites have verbally expressed happiness at the quality of the produce and products available, local produce-based businesses have privately offered congratulations (and denied that the Local Farmer’s Market has impacted their summer business), and we received good media coverage from the Fitzhugh and on local businesses’ Facebook pages.

The success of the pilot project has convinced the members of the JLFS to carry on with a full season in 2011, with some important improvements, including expanding to 50 garden plots, and a more aesthetically attractive Farmers’ Market. The challenges before us include clarifying our Market licensing system, securing a permanent location for the Gardens, funding-raising, and expanding our volunteers’ base. Considering how successful we were at meeting our first years’ challenges, we are confident that 2011 will be a great year too.

Weekly Farmer’s Market Coming to Jasper!

The Jasper Local Food Society plans to host a weekly farmer’s market this summer!  Right now we have a commitment from a group of producers from the Robson Valley, as well as some local artists and craftspeople.  The plan is to start small and build it up.  Jasperites have been hoping for this for years, and it looks like it will become a reality this year!

The first date is tentatively set for July 14th, and we are looking for more vendors! The market will be on Wednesdays during July and August from 12pm to 3pm in the Jasper Legion Parking Lot.  We are looking for local producers, artists and foodies who wish to participate consistent with the “grow it, bake it or make it” philosophy of the market.  Vendors must also comply with all Alberta Public Health Regulations.  If you are interested please call Lori at 780-852-3674 or send an email to (with the subject line “farmers market vendor”) for more information.

Permaculture in Jasper

Thanks to Zaybee McGregor, Community Gardener and Garden Club member, for this report:

A handful of enthusiastic gardeners gathered at the Jasper High School to attend an introduction to Permaculture over the June 12th-13th weekend.

The course presenter was Barb Hazenveld, a permaculture educator from Olds, Alberta. Barb has several decades of experience, and also runs a business called Gorgeous & Edible Landscaping. Normally, Barb teaches courses on Advanced Permaculture at Olds College, but sometimes she can be enticed to leave home. Thanks to the Jasper Adult Learning Centre for bringing her to town!

So what is “Permaculture”? People define it in different ways, but the concept as originally coined by Bill Mollison is basically a method of designing a living and  growing environment that utilizes natural energies in the most effective and efficient ways. The idea is to harness synergies between living things, maximize efficiency and promote beneficial interconnectedness. The goal is to harmonize with the natural order to use less artificial and human energy, produce less waste, and reduce our reliance on industrial systems of production and distribution. The latter, as Bill Mollison points out, fundamentally and systematically destroy the earth’s ecosystems. Permaculture helps us become the solution, rather than the problem.

With the advantage of all of this for local food growing in our minds, the class enjoyed learning about applying permaculture’s design principles to soil building, water storage and use, and solar power. We were inspired by several videos with examples from around the world showing how whole communities were changed by the use of these innovative ways of thinking and doing.

If the individuals attending the course actually can now move into a more sustainable way of living, we’ll all be better off, and if not right now, at least the seeds were sown for inspirational changes sure to happen in the future.

For anyone interested in the subject there are lots of books available in the Jasper Town Library, as well as videos, and of course Barb is holding classes in Olds. In fact, there is a two week live-in Permaculture Design Course being taught by Barb Hazenveld and Ron Berezan, in Olds, July 3rd – 17th.

Also included, courtesy of Ursula Winkler, is a powerpoint by Jesse Lemieux of Pacific Permaculture:  It’s in the form of a pdf file, so you can use acrobat reader. Just click here to view the notes:  PermacultureNotes,JesseLemieux,Calgary 2010

Happy Growing!

Name that Plant

We made the front page of the Fitzhugh this week. Gardening, it seems, is busting out all over.

That’s certainly true in our little community garden behind the library. The garden beds are showing lots of vigorous life. Considering the unseasonable cold weather we had for the beginning of June, you might call it a bit of a miracle that the seeds germinated at all. Yet there they are!

It is always an exciting time as the little shoots push up through the soil and unfurl their leaves. But it can be a time of puzzlement too, as gardeners peer at those little leaves, scratch their heads and wonder “hmmm… what was it I planted in that row, again?”

Time to play “Name that Plant”! The rules are simple. Look at the six photos included here and use the “Your Comment” window below the slideshow to say what you think the plant is. Common English or French names are fine; extra kudos will be earned for botanical names, or for tips about growing that particular plant in our Rocky Mountain climate. When you add your comments, be sure to identify the photo by it’s special number, so we don’t have any confusion as to which mystery leaves you’re talking about.  [ie: write “Photo 4 is ….”]

To add more mystery to your life, we’ll leave you with a teaser: A Farmer’s Market is coming! Food Growers, Artists and more will be needed. Watch this space for more info, coming soon.

Happy Growing,

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The Gardens are a REALITY

It has been a busy week. Three work bees later, we have soil in the raised beds, a fence up to keep the elk at bay, and a nifty, nostalgic garden gate. A blue rain barrel decorates one corner, right next to the watering cans. Seeds and seedlings are in the ground! People have planted basil, beets, broccoli, carrots, chives, kale, lavender, lettuces, oregano, marigolds, mint, onions, pansies, parsley, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, swiss chard, and lots more. The community garden is a reality.

Planting is Proceeding

Time to give credit where credit is due.

Let’s start with the Jasper Municipality. Town Council and the municipal staff have been incredibly supportive. George Krefting in particular has been a hero, helping us get a site that was accessible, central, with water access and good sun exposure. The Municipality also helped with organising soil and tools, wire and posts for the fence. The Library board was also very supportive, allowing us to use their backyard for the gardens, and allowing us to fit all the raised beds that were needed for this year into one site. While the current location is temporary, being in the area that will become part of the renovated town library, it gives us a place to work out the details and logistics for a more sustainable Community Garden. We love being so close to the Library and the school! Jasper Home Hardware’s Home Building Centre donated enough timber to build 19 of the 23 raised garden beds (we purchased the rest), and their Garden Centre brought in seedlings which Community Garden members were able to purchase at a discount. Servus Credit Union offered to donate the funds needed to cover costs of some tools (like the watering cans). Jasper town has been great, just great.

Then there have been the local gardening aficionados. You know who you are. You’re the folks who scrounged at the transfer station for timber, and took washing machines apart to turn tubs into rain barrels; who cut and screwed together the timber to make the bedding frames. You’re the ones who pulled wire, dug post holes, held the level or hunted up rocks for stabilizing the gate posts. You’re the ones who’ve begun sharing your knowledge of growing in cold climates, or brought your children along to give us smiles and inspiration. Some of you took leadership (and heat, when things looked a bit controversial) others came out to the work bees just to help, without even being on the list for a garden plot! You folks, you’re the Community Garden’s community.

Who Ya Gonna Call? Dirt Busters!

So here’s a big shout out to George, Brock, Tracy, Ursula, Terry, Marni, Di, Heather, Darin, Sophie, JoAnn, Jeanine, Debbie, Andrea, Zaybee, Linda, Monica, Val, Tyler, Roger, Brian, Jamie, Karen, Brett, Barb, Tyler, Mana, Linea, Cam, Heidi, Martin, Joan, Del, Dylan, Richard, Brenda, Rico, Mike, Brian, Janet and so many more.

My, how our community is growing!

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Many Hands (and Tools) Make Light Work

“It’s starting to look like a garden!” One member of the Jasper Local Food Society was literally jumping for joy last Friday night.

For a while, the backyard of the Jasper Library looked like a construction site.

Men and women with power tools were building frames out of two-by-fours. Others with spades, shovels and sod-cutters were clearing grass and levelling plots. Wheelbarrows full of sod were being trundled, and the sod was being loaded for transport to the composter. Kids were running around, sort of helping.

A work bee, as it turns out, is fun! It was cold and windy, but people came together, and we laughed as we built frames, dug, or struggled with sod, clayey soil and deep-drilling dandelion roots. By 9 p.m. on Friday night we had laid out 19 plots. The next day we finished the job. Now, 23 raised-bed garden frames are laid out, waiting for delivery of soil and compost. It is, indeed,  starting to look like a garden!

Happy Growing!

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Community garden work bee May 28th weekend

We are having a work bee to build community garden boxes at the site behind the municipal library on Friday, May 28th from 7:00 to 9:30p.m. and Saturday, May 29th from 10:00a.m. to 4:00p.m. (or until we are done!).  We could use some extra hands.  If you have any cordless drills, sod cutters, shovels, wheelbarrows, etc., bring them along (make sure you mark them with your name!).  We hope to finish the garden boxes this weekend so everyone can get planting!

On Friday afternoon and Saturday, we are also looking for people able to truck food grade compost from the landfill to the garden site at the library.  This would require using your own truck.  Please email jasperlocalfood(at) or call (852-5042) to let us know if you can help out.

Also, a final reminder that if you want your name on the list for a community garden plot, the deadline is this Friday, May 28th.  Please email jasperlocalfood(at) or call (852-5042) to add your name to the list.

Plants Galore! Swap, Sale & Permaculture Class

There are lots of opportunities to get plants this coming week, just in time for the traditional Jasper planting date: the first full moon after Victoria Day.

Jasper United Church is holding it’s 42nd Annual Plant Sale on May 27, 28, 29, at the McCready Centre on the corner of Turret and Miette. Templeton’s Greenhouses from Edson are  providing a huge array of flowers and plants, as usual. Thursday’s  and Friday (May 27 & 28), hours are from 10 am to 6 pm. Saturday (May 29) hours are 10 am to 2 pm.

The Garden Club is organising a Plant Swap for May 30.  Everyone is welcome!  Come to the Jasper Museum parking lot, between 2pm and 4pm.  Bring any outdoor plants, perennials or extra seedlings or herbs that can be divided & swapped.  Maybe some of the plants you bought at the Plant Sale can be divided?  It is a good idea to label the plants and say what kind of location they prefer (sun/shade), if you know.
Also, the Jasper Adult Learning Centre is putting on a Permaculture for Cold Temperate Gardens class on June 12th & 13th.  Permaculture is a design system for maximizing food production. It emulates nature in its resilliance, and teaches us how plants, animals and insects interact to create greater diversity and productivity in the garden.  Barb Hazenveld from Olds College is thrilled to be applying her diplomas in horticulture, permaculture and education to helping us learn specific techniques for organic growing, extending seasons and harvest and storage for cold climates. Barb will teach us how to make a basic design for a garden, how to combine elements for maximal food growing, and easy step-by-step methods of collecting water, creating healthy soil, and controlling pests and weeds.  It’s a great opportunity for anyone new to gardening in Jasper, for those of you hoping to have a plot in the Community Gardens, or for anyone wanting to get new tips on growing food crops in just 100 frost-free days! The class will run from 9am to 5 pm each day, and costs $199. Pre-registration is mandatory for all courses. Contact the JALC:  780-852-4418, or stop by the office at 631 Patricia St.  Payment can be in cash, cheque, VISA or Mastercard.  Registration deadline is May 28th.

Happy Growing!

The 42nd Annual Jasper United Church Plant Sale is returning to the McCready Centre May 27, 28, 29.  Thursday’s (May 27), hours are from 10 am to 6 pm, Friday (May 28) from 10 am to 6 pm and Saturday (May 29) 10 am to 2 pm. Templeton’s Greenhouses from Edson are again providing us with a huge array of flowers and plants AND the first full moon after Victoria Day is during our sale, winter should be over….

Garden Club starting in Jasper!

The first meeting of Garden Club in Jasper is at 2:00p.m. on Sunday, May 16th at the Jasper Alpine Summit Seniors Lodge.  This meeting is to gather up people interested in sharing ideas and gardening experiences!  The garden club will be working closely with the Jasper Local Food Society on some of our initiatives, and also will be helping out with the community garden projects.

New sites for 2010 gardens!

We have secured some new sites for community garden plots for the 2010 gardening season!  We are in the process of confirming, measuring, and planning for garden boxes at these sites.   Plots will be 4 x 8 feet, and a fee of $20 will be charged to cover costs for materials and water use.  We anticipate that we may have more willing gardeners than garden plots, so these plots will be assigned on a lottery basis. Please email us at for more details or if you would like to put your name on the list.

Update: The Lions Park Community Garden Proposal

  • May 11, 2010:  Alternate sites are in the works so that we can guarantee some garden space this year! The Jasper Local Food Society continues to consider the Lions Park as a potential location for future gardens.
  • May 10, 2010:  Based on the current roadblocks and continuing opposition to the gardens at the Lions Park, the gardens may not be built in time for this growing season. To address concerns about this location, and to clarify misunderstandings about the gardens, a public information session is planned for this summer.
  • May 5, 2010:  Town council passed a motion to ask Parks Canada to amend the lease for the Lions Park to allow for community gardens at the site.
  • May 2010:  A petition was launched opposing the gardens, based on the belief that the park would be rezoned, and that  garden plots would be built throughout the park, compromising the freedom of adults and children to enjoy the greenspace.  (These points have been clarified; please see Background on the Lions Park project).
  • April 20, 2010, the Jasper Local Food Society presented a proposal to the mayor and council at the town council meeting regarding the garden plots at the Lions Park.
  • March 2010:  during local food presentations at the Jasper Library, the Lions Park was suggested as a location for a community garden.  This location was brought forward by the Lions Club and was supported by the municipality.

Lions Park as a pilot community garden site?

Back in March, when our thoughts were turning to spring, we participated in local food presentations at the Jasper Library. There was a lot of interest in community gardens, and community gardens fit well within the sustainability plan for the municipality of Jasper.  Located in Jasper National Park, our townsite has limited space for gardening; this is especially true for the many community members living in rental accommodation or on very small lots.  The Lions Park was suggested as an ideal location for a small number of community garden plots as a pilot project for 2010.

In Jasper, in addition to thinking about soil quality, water, and climate, gardeners also have to think about wildlife, land use designations, and accessibility.  The Lions Park has a water source,  a sunny, south-facing growing location is available, and it is already fenced for wildlife.  The central location means gardeners would not need a car to access their plots.  The playground and open area provides a great opportunity for families to garden while their children play nearby.  The Lions Club are the leaseholders, and are supportive of the idea. The community gardens were seen as a potential enhancement to the Lions Park.

In April, 2010,  the Jasper Local Food Society put forward a proposal  to the Municipality for a pilot project of 12 garden plots at the Lions Park.  Both the Lions Club and the municipal staff supported using this location. This proposal was presented at the town council meeting on April 20, 2010.  The proposal was to set up raised garden beds along the south-facing fence. The proposed garden plots would occupy approximately 2% of the total park area (102m2 out of 4175m2).   As this is a pilot project, the garden plots would be simple in construction, and  in the event that they are no longer needed, they could be removed and the space could easily be returned to grass. The location and layout of the proposed plots would not impede access to the playground equipment, and  open greenspace would remain along the west, north, and east fenceline. We do not plan to expand the gardens throughout the park or change the zoning of the park, and there was no intention to  alter the play space. Several families interested in garden plots have small children, and are frequent users of the Lions’ Park.  Our anticipation is that a number of gardeners will likely have children who would play there too.

The proposal was submitted to town council as a request to amend the lease with Parks Canada, to confirm that a community garden would fit within the land designation of the lease for the Lions Park.  The request was on the agenda for the April 20th and May 4th town council meetings, with a decision to be made on May 4th. At the same time, the Fitzhugh and the Skinny published stories about our plans.

At the beginning of May, a resident of Jasper initiated a petition to oppose the gardens at the Lions Park.  The petition was based on the belief that the playground would be rezoned for uses other than playground or greenspace, that the gardens would extend throughout the park, and that the freedom of children and adults to enjoy the park would be compromised.  The Jasper Local Food Society has attempted to clarify that the playground would not be rezoned, there are no plans to expand the gardens throughout the park, and the space that would be occupied by the gardens is minimal, therefore, playspace would not be compromised.  At the May 4 town council meeting, numerous people spoke to the value of the Lions Park community garden project and tried to address and clarify the misperceptions about the project.  Others spoke in opposition to the project. The Mayor asked the petitioners to meet with the Jasper Local Food Society to try to resolve the misperceptions and concerns, however, this was not a viable option for the group in opposition.  Despite the debate on the issue,  Town Council passed the motion on May 4th to ask Parks Canada to amend the lease for the Lions’ Park to allow for community gardens at the site.

We have tried to address concerns about this location, and to clarify misunderstandings about the gardens.  In addition, we have received much support from many members of our community. However, the current opposition to having the gardens at the Lions Park could mean that the garden plots might not be built in time for this growing season. Therefore, we’ve decided to seek some alternate sites so that we can ensure some garden space for the 2010 growing season.  A focus on alternate sites allows us to move forward and focus our energy in a positive way.

Stay tuned, and happy growing!

Hello world!

The Jasper Local Food Society was created in April of 2010.  Our group shares a common interest in growing food in Jasper, improving access to locally grown foods, and growing community through local food initiatives.

Based on concerns about where food is coming from, what happens to our food before it gets to our plates, and the environmental impacts of industrial food production, more and more people are becoming interested in locally produced food. Located in Jasper National Park, our townsite has limited space for gardening. This is especially true for the many community members living in rental accommodation or on very small lots. We aim to find spaces for community members to grow their own gardens and to improve access to locally grown produce from nearby regions of Alberta and B.C.  We want to revitalize our local gardening community, connect the young and the not so young, and create a sustainable network of local food producers.  Our initiatives and future goals include community garden projects, a garden share program, a weekly farmers market, a veggie box program, and education sessions.

We are a young organization in the early stages of development, and will be refining our goals, spaces, and initiatives rapidly in the upcoming weeks before growing season and throughout the year.  We are always looking for more members and volunteers to educate, build, dig, grow, communicate, and fundraise.

There are logistical, legal and operational challenges ahead of us. This blog is about our proposed community garden project, the evolution of the Jasper Local Food Society, and our attempts to grow community, one garden at a time. Email us at jasperlocalfood(at) to join our email list and stay updated on local food actions in your community.

Happy Growing!