The food farm grew about 14,500 pounds of produce that will be distributed to organizations like the Food Bank, Riverside Mission, Moose Jaw Transition House, Hunger in Moose Jaw and the Multicultural Center
The organizers of the Mosaic Food Farm have grown new types of produce this year, which they say has been fun and contributed to another successful growing season.
Most of the garden – located near Wellesley Park – had already been harvested when the Elkjaw Express visited recently. Garden coordinator Keri Fox and master gardener Maisie Riendeau collected carrots in a large tub for later washing.
This year went very well and was another big success, Fox said.
The food farm produced about 14,500 pounds of food – compared to over 16,000 pounds last year – which is distributed to organizations like the Food Bank, Riverside Mission, Moose Jaw Transition House, Hunger in Moose Jaw and the Multicultural Centre, she continued.
One reason they grew less was because they were trying to grow new vegetables like cantaloupe and watermelon, Fox said. They also grew different varieties of squash and squash, which were not as heavy but tastier.
Although the weight and quantity may have been less, it was still a good decision to grow new things, she added.
“We got more rain this year,” Riendeau said. “And we got it earlier (in the season) so it just helped establish everything.”
The rain ensured gardeners weren’t as reliant on city water, which contains chlorine and stresses plants, Fox said. In comparison, rainwater contains minerals like nitrogen that fertilize plants and help them grow better.
There was also less intense heat than last year, which also helped, she added. However, tomato yields fell somewhat as this vegetable likes heat.
This year’s quality was great, with potatoes and carrots growing larger than usual and peppers producing larger yields with fewer plants, Fox said. She attributed this quality growth to the early rains.
The gardeners also used compost material from a community farm, which had a positive impact.
“And his compost is the best compost I have ever used. That really made a big difference, too,” she continued. “…I am so impressed with this compost. I’ve never used it from this guy.”
Riendeau and Fox enjoyed all aspects of the growing process, from the sun and being outside to donating the food and seeing the excitement on people’s faces.
“We both love plants. We’re like big plant nerds and we love hanging out with them,” laughed Fox.
Both green thumbs also had fun learning how to grow new vegetables and applying their knowledge. Other new foods they grew were asparagus, raspberries and cucumbers – all of which did well.
Gardeners have chosen to grow new produce because it’s good for the soil, Riendeau said, adding that “variety is the spice of life.”
Different vegetables also have different nutrient levels compared to store-bought foods that look the same and lack key nutrients, Fox said. For example, the food farm has grown tomatoes and peppers of different colors, which have higher nutrient content and are healthier.
One challenge gardeners faced was a major frost in June that killed 800 bedding plants, Fox said. However, Windmill Greenhouses donated hundreds of plants after learning of the loss and sold others at a tenth of the cost.
“She really stood up for us,” Fox added.
Another challenge was zucchini powdery mildew, which occurred because there was no late-season rainfall to keep the plant’s leaves moist, Riendeau added.
The organization plans to address this issue over the next year by installing oscillating sprinklers on tall poles.
The gardeners are already planning what the food farm will look like next year. They plan to alternate crops because planting the same thing in the same spot robs that area of nutrients while there could be a disease that kills.
“Like the amounts and stuff we’re growing, I think we’ve figured out a pretty good system,” Fox added. “So we’ll probably do something similar.”