For GROW, it’s the most beautiful time of the year

If you’ve been following our social media, you’ve probably seen more than a few of the ambitious projects the students and staff in our GROW (Gardens by Refugees and Other newcomers Welcomed) program have undertaken. From planting the first seedlings in early spring and visiting the GROW Calgary farm, to building beautiful raised garden beds, a new fence, and a small garden shed, it’s safe to say the yard around our SE Forest Lawn location has been transformed. Our man-made creations aren’t the only things that have sprung up, either, as those early spring seedlings have grown to become an abundant garden capable of supplying beautiful produce to the community. Here are a couple of updates on our journey through summer:

Scarecrow building

CIES’s afternoon Drop-In ESL students built scarecrows for the GROW garden in our Forest Lawn location to protect our budding vegetables from mischievous crows and magpies. Students, teachers and staff donated old clothes and material to build the new members of our CIES family, Pepsi and Ginger.  Pepsi presides over the western part of the garden, on constant vigil over peas, carrots, radishes and Swiss chard, while Ginger watches over the kale, basil and tomatoes in the North side the garden. Teamwork!


GROW 1st Harvest

After months of tilling and toil, the `fruits` of our labour (although they were mainly vegetables not fruit) were gathered and shared, as the garden yielded its first harvest last Friday, July 28. The CIES family was treated to trays full of radishes, kale, spinach and basil, all of which have a shorter growing season than the larger root and vine vegetables we’ve planted, and will continue to supply produce until the first frosts signal fall’s approach. All of our fresh produce was organically grown without pesticides in the GROW program`s raised garden beds around CIES` Forest Lawn building.



If you haven’t yet had the chance to visit our gardens at CIES SE, don’t worry! There’s still plenty of summer left, with the harvest of some of our biggest vegetables yet to come. And if you’re looking for an excuse to visit us at CIES, what better opportunity that at CIES’ 7th Annual Summer Festival on Thursday, August 17? Entry to the festival is free and all are welcome – in addition to the GROW garden tour, there will be live music and dance, a stunning ethnic costume fashion parade, delicious food from around the community, a local marketplace, and much more. Join us at 1723 40 St SE from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and help us celebrate summer!


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