Luanne Leech says she was a plant killer before she discovered the Hope Community Garden.
“I couldn’t grow anything,” she said with a laugh. “But my family, we had a garden in our backyard growing up and it’s something I always wanted to do. I thought the best way to learn would be to join a community garden, instead of spending countless hours on the internet trying to figure it out.”
“Learning about soil, and manure, how to feed your plants so they don’t die, I’ve learned about all of that and last year I had really good crops of carrots, beets, tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, kale and arugula.”
Leech said her favourite is tomatoes and nothing beats a fresh tomato harvested from her plot.
“The tomatoes grown here are organic, and the flavour is just bursting,” she said. “Locally grown, out of your garden, it tastes the best.”
Leech moved to Hope from Maple Ridge in 2020. Recently retired, she wanted to leave behind the bustle of a city of 90,000 people and enjoy the quiet life. But the decision came with a price. She had to leave behind friends and family, settling into her new home with no social supports at all.
That was her other motivation for joining the Hope Community Garden.
“Being new to town, I wanted to meet people,” she said. “Two of the people I met actually live next door to me and they’ve been avid gardeners here for years. Rosina was running the growing for the Hope Food Resource Centre and I started helping her with that, lugging manure and getting right into it as much as I could.”
Leech said the welcome was warm the first time she showed up at the Hope Community Garden, which is located next to Coquihalla elementary school, at the corner of Coquihalla Street and 7th Avenue. She said she was feeling a mixture of excitement and curiosity when she stepped through the metal gate, and the people were very friendly.
“When I moved to Hope, it was all brand new and it was scary, and I didn’t want to be on my own not knowing anybody,” Leech said. “But the people here were over and above what I expected. Anything I could think of to ask, they were ready to answer and give me all the information I needed.
“You’re here as long as you want, or as short as you want, and everyone appreciates anything that anybody does. I can come here for a half hour and I’m totally appreciated, and that’s a really good feeling that I love.”
On a beautiful spring or summer day, there aren’t many places she would rather be, and she’d love for others to have the same experience.
She hopes folks will drop by the Hope Community Garden open house, happening April 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m..
There will be free seeds available (by donation) that have been collected at the community garden. Hope Communities in Bloom has supplied plants and garden art that will be available (by donation), with proceeds going to the Hope secondary leadership group.
A children’s table will be set up for the little ones, who will be able to seed a pot after they paint it (for free).
For the first time, vendors have been invited to join this event.
Registration for the new garden season will also be held during the open house, and Leech said she’ll be looking forward to welcoming the newcomers the way she was welcomed.
“There are going to be really good people here to answer any questions you have,” she said. “We want to grow the community and share our knowledge.”
For more info, visit facebook.com/hopebccommunitygarden/
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