The first day of May finally brought sunshine and renewed energy to the members of the Hope Community Garden.
The garden at the corner of Coquihalla Street and Fourth Avenue has grown in leaps and bounds over the last two years thanks to a $12,000 base grant from the Fraser Health Authority and support of numerous groups and organizations.
The garden is managed by Free Rein Associates and this growing season is under the part-time direction of Ester Brysch.
It all started four years ago with a brush-filled field once operated decades ago as a bulk oil plant; the land was being held in abeyance awaiting environmental clean-up. Then thanks a $1 per year lease fee on the western portion of the large lot the garden was born. The land was cleared, fencing was donated, wood for the above ground containers recycled, and the fruit trees gifted by the Hope Garden Centre. Spectra Energy and CUPE workers later kicked in for the ‘Communities in Bloom’ green house and garden shed, and Jim Lasser Construction brought in his heavy equipment to help volunteers build a now tulip-filled front rock garden.
And each spring, it is the volunteers who work the land, some with a small plot of their own, who bring the garden to life.
Faye and Bob Burrell, also avid volunteers with Communities in Bloom, live in a small home nearby without much space for a food garden in their back yard. But it is not only the joy of growing their own peas, tomatoes, and herbs that keeps them coming back, but the “social” connection with their community.
The Coquihalla school students and teacher Teresa Williams are also avid supporters of the garden, learning together the value of connecting with Mother Nature.
Building a healthy community with access to affordable healthy food is the backbone of the Healthy Communities initiative.
“People who work together to grow food and reconnect with the land, communities and families grow strong, hopeful, confident and healthy.” That is the garden’s fundamental value.
And being apart of the garden means much more than growing your own, but growing for others too. Volunteers and residents of the Thunderbird Housing Project, plant the main field each season with potatoes, carrots, and a host of greens, all to be donated to the Hope Food Bank or Joshua Project Soup Kitchen.
With spring finally in the air, residents have until the second Sunday in June at the very latest to have their garden plots planted. Membership to the Hope Community Garden is $25 which goes towards helping the garden achieve financial independence once the grant funding is exhausted.
With a plot, members receive access to water, soil, lime and gardening tools. But whether it is your family’s first attempt at mini-farming or you are an avid gardener already, it may just be the wealth of knowledge that is liberally shared by your fellow green thumbs that holds the most value in membership.
Thanks to yet another volunteer carpenter, fully raised beds are also available this year for those who have difficulty bending down to ground level.
For more information on the community garden, to donate to the garden, or rent a garden plot call 604-869-2279.