It takes The Ville to raise a community: Volunteers put down roots (and lots of compost) for Pay It Forward Community Garden

Written by Oscar Baker

Oscar is an award-winning multimedia reporter from Elsipogtog First Nation and St. Augustine, Fla. Winner of the David Adams Richards award for non-fiction writing for The Violent Ones. Follow him on Twitter @oggycane4lyfe

May 1, 2018

It’s a new season and The Ville is springing into action.

The agricultural cooperative located in the old Alex Gibson Memorial School in the heart of Marysville is tilling soil with the help of over 50 volunteers. The Ville and its NB Liquor volunteers recently spent the day putting in the work for the Pay It Forward Community Garden.

“Everyone needs to feel like they have an ability to make a difference,” said Jeff MacFarlane, the executive director of The Ville.

“If we can show that one person can change the narrative, that one person can make a difference

“Effort at the end of the day produces progress,” said Jeff MacFarlane, executive director of The Ville.

then it moves everyone to a positive state.”

MacFarlane hopes the hard work of The Ville and its volunteers can help quell a growing sense of apathy and a general sense that people’s voices don’t matter. He feels too many people in the community feel that way. The community volunteer days are a way to empower the public to work for the change they want says MacFarlane. The Ville has three or four community volunteer days a year.

“If you’re going to create good health, good mental wellness and good communities it takes effort,” said MacFarlane. “Effort at the end of the day produces progress.”

The Ville is a collective of people, ideas and businesses, but MacFarlane’s main vision and focus is on food. For him it means a community garden rooted in hard work and a community collective.

“Food is our foundation. It is the only thing we need and we don’t value it where I think we should,” said MacFarlane, who hopes to provide the community with local organic food. That means a strategic plan through composting, community gardening and working with people with similar visions.

Adam Weaver is an agriculture coordinator at The Ville and fairly new to New Brunswick. The 30-

“I hope The Ville gets to thrive and acts like and inspiration,” said Adam Weave agriculture coordinator.

year-old is from Alberta and hopes The Ville can serve as a model for other communities.

“The Pay It Forward Garden is open to anyone who wants to, they can come in and grab a handful of peas or a few leaves of kale if they’re hungry,” said Weaver, who spent much of his 20s focused on food and agriculture after volunteering on organic farms. After travelling and seeing what organic local foods meant to people around the world he’s hopeful New Brunswick can sustain these types of models.

“I hope the Ville gets to thrive and acts as an inspiration,” said Weaver.

He spent much of the volunteer day guiding volunteers to move compost to the garden beds.

“This is such a huge help we can get so much done in just two hours with 50 or 60 hands,” he said.

The volunteers spent hours digging garden beds, cleaning inside the building, moving mulch and helping to brainstorm strategies to help The Ville raise donations and broaden its reach.

“I’m so impressed its the epitome of giving back to the community,” said Sharon Cattan, marketing manager of beer and wine NB Liquor.

One of those volunteers was Sharon Cattan, marketing manager for beer and wine at NB

Liquor. “Today was our regular conference and everybody was given a choice on where to go,” she said. “I knew about The Ville but I didn’t know how amazing it was.”

Cattan said she lives on Fredericton’s Northside but didn’t know all The Ville had to offer. She spent the day helping to brainstorm ideas to fundraise. Cattan said if one is lucky enough to have a job, food and time they should give back. “It’s our community and if you don’t care about our community then you’re in the wrong place.”

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