Planting Day At The David Arntfield Recreation Area

By Tom Plant

On Saturday May 11th at 7:45 a.m. at the Manotick Mike O’Neill Arena, the first wave of volunteers arrived. By 10:00 a.m. many more had arrived, creating one of the largest gatherings of Manotick community volunteers in years! The project? The planting of new gardens at the arena in preparation for the grand opening of the David Arntfield Recreational Area on July 4th. Not only were there 20 or so volunteers working together – the age range of this dedicated group was from 6 years old to …well, let’s just say, there were a healthy number of senior citizens as well.

The youthful energy and enthusiasm was provided by students such as Evelyn MacAfee who (while maneuvering a full wheelbarrow of mulch) declared “I’m in Grade One ya know!” She and several other Manotick Public School students spent the morning digging, planting and mulching while they experienced the rewards of making a tangible contribution to the community. This MCPRA (Manotick Culture Parks and Recreation Association) project has recruited four community groups to participate – Manotick Public School, St. Leonard’s Catholic School, Youth of Manotick (YOMA) and the friends and family of David Arntfield. This win-win project will provide learning experiences for youth as well as save the knees, hips and backs of some of the usual, older MCPRA volunteers.

Sam Potter, Axiom Huff-Boyle and Evelyn MacAfee were busy working the wheelbarrows at Centennial Park.

For many years now the M.C.P.R.A (Manotick Culture Parks and Recreation Association) has been dedicated to enhancing and revitalizing the Manotick community. Clearly held together over the years by two, long-time residents – Anne Robinson and Mike O’Neill – the MCPRA now has a Board of ten Manotick residents who oversee and create initiatives like pathways, water access points, Chic Time, outdoor rinks, tree planting, park care – to name a few. Like many organizations, the MCPRA needs “need blood” if these sorts of projects are to continue in the years ahead.

This garden planting project is a beautiful supplement to the largest MCPRA undertaking in years: the David Arntfield Recreational Area – set to officially open on July 4th. The new gardens were divided into quadrants with each of the community groups taking responsibility for a section. Each group will now oversee tending their section of garden; ensuring that watering and weeding are done in the months ahead.  Many thanks go out to the Parent Councils of the elementary schools, YOMA and the Arntfield family for taking on the sections of garden care. The old adage “Many hands make light work” is clearly playing out with this undertaking.

The gardens were designed by Stephanie Hurman and A. Murray of Artistic Landscape and Design.  Stephanie began the Saturday event with a quick lesson on how to properly remove a plant from a planter, loosen the roots and pack soil around the base. Equipped with the know-how and the tools, the MPS students, representatives from YOMA and St. Leonard’s and the Artfield family and friends headed off to their garden plots to begin. The planting was followed by many wheelbarrows of mulch, refreshments and many smiling, proud faces for the accomplishments.

To learn more about the MCPRA and our community projects and activities go to our website. Parents of elementary school children can contact their Parent Council groups and request for their family to be added to the volunteer schedules. (Consider it …  less screen time, more green time!)

Many thanks to the following volunteers:  Anne Robinson, Mike O’Neill, Pat O’Leary, Cathy and Andrew Arntfield, Jon Mac, Vivian Mitchell, Tom Plant, Carrie Potter (the early crew), Alice Pallister, Jesse Kallio, Hayden Kallio, Talia Emery, Everly Emery, Loran MacAfee, Evy MacAfee, Praxis Huff-Boyle, Axiom Huff-Boyle, Sam Potter, Leanne Brazier and Daniel Pereira.