Growing up in Rossland

Alisa Senecal credits the wealth of information, resources and the facilities of the Rossland Community Garden for her beginner's luck.

When Alisa Senecal first put seeds into the ground at the Rossland Community Garden in late April she had no idea what she was getting into.

She wanted to put her belief in food security into practice, albeit on a limited scale, and try her hand at growing some of her own food.

Now, six weeks later, her seeds have taken off into a robust, bursting-with-life, little garden that the trained nutritionist is having trouble keeping up to.

Asian greens, kale, lettuce, kidney beans, a mix of salad green, snap peas and potatoes (from person who had the garden bed last year) are creating an embarrassment of riches for Senecal, all on her first try at gardening.

She credited the wealth of information, resources and the facilities of the community garden for her beginner’s luck.

“What is great about the community garden is it is already set up,” Senecal said. “The bed is here, you have water hoses, all the tools you need. It makes it easy for someone like me to come in and start gardening.”

Although raised in Rossland and exposed to flower gardening her whole life, this is Senecal’s first attempt at growing a garden. She had been moving around the last five years since she graduated from Rossland Secondary School to complete her schooling in nutrition.

She always wanted to try her hand at gardening— growing more than just herbs and potted tomatoes—and try to cultivate local food. So she started with easy crops for her first her, absorbed everything she could from an introductory workshop offered by Rossland REAL Food—who operates the garden—and leaned heavily on the expertise of fellow community garden members.

“There are times when I come to water my garden and often there are other members here as well and I am always asking them ‘What do I do with this?’ and they can tell me, so that’s nice,” she said.

Located at the north end of Jubilee Park (behind the high school), the garden was created in June, 2010.  It’s a place for the entire community to learn, participate and share information about gardening. People are welcome to visit and participate in activities at the garden.

It contains 16 regular sized beds (four by eight feet) for rent to members, as well as two higher, easy-accessibility beds and a large community bed that contains herbs and other assorted plants.

The rules of the garden are simple: members are responsible for their own beds and are expected to participate in some work parties, maintenance and watering schedules throughout the season—a commitment of five hours per season.

Volunteer tasks may include weeding, turning compost, and moving soil, mulch or manure.

But the exchange of information is invaluable, said Senecal. She was instructed on how to extend the growing season in Rossland, enrich the soil, and fight the sometimes killing May frost.

She placed plastic over the bed to create a hoop house and it allowed her beans to come up a lot quicker and earlier than they normally would in Rossland’s alpine climate.

“With that (hoop house), probably this time of year they would be just starting,” she said, pointing to the four-inch tall beans.

The rental cost per bed is $15 per season, plus a $50 deposit for volunteer hours.

People interested in a garden bed can contact Rossland REAL Food to go on a waiting list. Contact community garden coordinator Ami Haworth at

For more information, go to