The Banff Greenhouse Gardening Society just keeps on growing.
What started as a seed with the creation of the town’s first greenhouse five years ago has bloomed into a second greenhouse and a membership of more than a 100 green thumbs. In fact, the society has more members than their 60 garden plots can hold, which is why they are currently germinating and fundraising for a third greenhouse.
“Having a garden plot fills something missing in mountain life for people,” president of the society Bob Lutz says of the two greenhouses, the first located at the Rec Grounds and the second at the Cascade Plaza.
Born out of a Town of Banff Community Survey in 2006, research and initial fundraising was conducted by the Town of Banff until an advisory group was formed in 2009 and later developed into the society it is today.
Because whether they’re growing food from a planter in a windowsill at home or from a garden plot, Lutz says Banffites are determined to access fresh and homegrown vegetables.
(And apparently the veg is just as committed — for the first time, kale from the Cascade Plaza greenhouse was able to survive through winter last year!)
Able to grow everything from arugula to Tiny Tim tomatoes, the society also dishes out soul food, the kind of nourishment that fills people’s well being.
“The success of the greenhouses is seen in how they’ve been a part of community life,” board member Anna Powell notes. “They’re a nice way to bond different layers of the community together.”
For instance, there are plots for Grade 1 and Summer Fun students at the Cascade Plaza greenhouse. Bow Valley College English Language Learners have used a plot as an outdoor classroom where they learned to weed and water too. Powell also describes watching members who have deep roots in gardening cultivate the newer planters who are always thrilled when their work comes to fruition.
“One guy who signed up on a whim was so excited when he saw the plant he grew,” Powell says.
And that, as Lutz puts it, is the joy of planthood.
“It’s not quite a baby, but it’s something alive that depends on you and just keeps on growing.”