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Coal Mine Park seeks pollinator pals

Volunteers wanted to expand pollinator park
NEEDS WORK — St. Albert gardening advocate Dale Ford is rallying volunteers to help spruce up the pollinator garden of Coal Mine Park (shown here). The garden has been plagued by weeds blown in from nearby house construction. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

A St. Albert gardener is rallying volunteers to bring more pollinators to a northside park.

St. Albert master gardener Dale Ford put out a call on social media earlier this month for volunteers interested in naturalizing Coal Mine Park, which is the large poplar forest near Everitt Drive and Ebony Way.

Coal Mine Park opened in 2020 and was the first city-run park in St. Albert with a dedicated pollinator garden. (The volunteer-run St. Albert Botanic Park has had such a garden since 2019.) The garden features a variety of native plants and is designed to provide food and shelter for pollinating bugs and birds.

Ford, who helped design said garden, said she recently asked the city to form a volunteer group to manage and expand the park’s garden through the Partners in Parks program.

“Native plants are quite the specialty,” she said, and require specialized knowledge and care city maintenance efforts might not be able to provide.

Ford said she is organizing a work bee at the pollinator garden at 10 a.m. this June 1 for this yet-to-be-named volunteer group. She and her fellow “garden gnomes” will pluck trash and Canada thistle from the existing garden and add native plants provided by the city to the grassy area on the other side of the path next to the garden, doubling its size.

City of St. Albert parks operations supervisor Erin Pickard said the city has about 100 people registered through Partners in Parks to help crews mow grass and care for flower beds.

“It is a huge benefit,” she said, as it gives city parks more care than public works crews can provide, and often brings neighbourhoods together.

Pickard said nearby construction sites mean there are a considerable number of invasive plants in the pollinator garden. Volunteers could provide the extra hands needed to keep them in check.

Ford said she hopes this volunteer group will eventually add more educational signs and other pollinator gardens to the park.

“It’s already a special place,” she said of Coal Mine Park, as the thick trees make it very cool and quiet.

“When you walk through there, it feels like you’re back 200 years ago.”

Questions on the Coal Mine Park volunteer group should go to [email protected]. Email [email protected] for information on Partners in Parks.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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