Black Lake begins Harvest for first-ever community Garden

Posted on October 5, 2020 in People. Tags: Explorer Newsletter Fall 2020 |

The gardeners for the Black Lake Community Garden: Jenelle Moise – Left and Anna Beavereye – Right

This June, Black Lake initiated a greenhouse to help grow produce for the community. It was the first time the community has undertaken a greenhouse, and it turned out to be a big project requiring equipment and training on seed ordering, hydroponics and structures, soil preparations and fertilization, transplanting, temperature control and more.

“We’ve been wanting to get this initiative going in our community for awhile,” says Terri-Lynn Beavereye, Executive Director of Black Lake Ventures. “Seeing all this fresh produce grown by our own community members in the North is very exciting!”

The project is paying off, and the gardeners are preparing to harvest a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including strawberries, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, cabbages, and more. Once harvest is complete, the gardeners will make packages of fruits and vegetables for Elders, prenatal women, and members who need assistance.

“When we saw Fond du Lac’s success with running their community garden since 2015, we knew it could be done here too,” says Terri-Lynn. “Also, Tiffany Toutsaint, Manager of Fond du Lac Development, hosted our gardeners at their garden so they could see how they do it. It was amazing, and both our gardeners, Jenelle and Anna, came back very excited to do this for our community.”

It is difficult to get fresh produce to remote communities like Black Lake, and growing gardens is more difficult than in the south and transportation costs are expensive. The garden is specially designed to accommodate growing conditions in the far north, where the growing season is short and the soil is closer to sand. “So many people worked together to make this a success,” says Terri-Lynn. “I have to give kudos to April Robillard, the Executive Assistant at Black Lake Ventures, who really took the lead to organize things and get this going, and to our gardeners, Jenelle Moise and Anna Beavereye, for all their hard work that lead to a successful first crop. I’d also like to thank the community members and Chief and Council for their support of this important initiative – without it, we couldn’t make it happen. Thanks to all the organizations who provided sponsorship: Athabasca Community Trust through the impact benefit agreement, Can/Sask Job Grants, Athabasca Basin Development and Athabasca Health Authority.”

Athabasca Basin Development provided $5,000 for the Black Lake community garden in 2020 and has been a supporter of Fond du Lac’s community garden since its inception. “We are happy to provide support to Athabasca communities for their community gardens,” says Geoff Gay, CEO of Athabasca Basin Development. “As part of our sponsorship program, we look for ways to help support community-lead initiatives like these that benefit many members of the community. Fond du Lac’s garden has been a big success for them and we’re pleased to see Black Lake’s first year has gone so well. A lot of work goes into starting and maintaining these gardens, so hats off to both communities for making it happen.”