Wednesday, August 17, 2011

'Absolutely amazing': Urban garden a welcome downtown oasis

Thanks to the Daily News for 
this positive coverage of the event:

The vegetable garden is bordered on one side by a wall of chipped stucco and on the other by an empty lot filled with dirt, rocks and the powdery remnants of three demolished buildings.
Only 15 feet wide but stretching the length of the property, this collection of raised beds is home to sunflowers, tomatoes, beans, basil, chard and plentiful squash whose leafy vines spill over the edges of the boxes.
“The before-and-after pictures are absolutely amazing,” said Laura Kalina, a community nutritionist with Interior Health.
“We’re just so pleased with how it turned out.”
What started as a pilot project earlier this year was officially declared a success on Tuesday as organizers, volunteers and City officials gathered to celebrate the Kamloops Public Produce Project at 121 Victoria St. — the first of its kind in the city.
Part harvest celebration, part ribbon-cutting ceremony, the event was chance to highlight a truly communal project that could be replicated anywhere in Kamloops.
“It’s really the result of the community coming together,” said Kalina, who is also a member of the Kamloops Food Policy Council, the group that came up with the garden idea.
With funding from Interior Health, horticultural expertise from the Thompson Shuswap Master Gardeners and help from more than 50 volunteers who nurtured and watered the plants daily, Kalina’s crew transformed a vacant lot into a free food source.
“It certainly seems like a success,” said property owner Casey VanDongen, as he watched people mingling in the garden.
VanDongen said he volunteered the land because he liked the concept of a public garden.
“It seemed like a good idea to me,” he said.
VanDongen has agreed to let the garden stay indefinitely, though its future could be cut short if a neighbouring landowner decides to build on the adjacent lot.
“If he builds there won’t be enough sunlight,” said VanDongen.
Which is why much of the focus of Tuesday’s event was on the need for more landowners like VanDongen who are willing to donate space for public gardens.
“Right now this land is not permanent, so we’re looking for a more permanent spot,” said Kalina.
“Maybe a developer has a property that’s not being used? It could be City land, or a private person who has property. We’re looking.”
Among those who spoke publicly at the celebration was Robin Reid, an assistant professor in Thompson Rivers University’s tourism management program.
She’s been studying the public garden as part of a larger research project on community gardens and their role in food sustainability.
Next month, she’ll present some of her findings at a conference at the University of Cumbria in Portugal, Spain, and will talk about some of the research gathered at the downtown garden.
“I wanted to see how people were engaging with the garden and what they’re response was to it,” said Reid.
“It’s amazing how many people said they love coming down here and just having a green space to go in a cement city and be surrounded by food.”
Reid has also discovered a curious trend in perceptions about the garden. While everyone applauds the produce project, Reid says not everyone is using it.
“Not everybody thinks that they are eligible to take from the garden,” she said.
“So, people that are of higher income or can support themselves seem to shy away from taking food from the garden because they feel it’s just for poor people. And yet, when you look at the diets of people, a lot of people with higher incomes could use some nutrition and public produce.”
Reid said it would take a change of mindset for Kamloops residents to accept that the garden exists for everyone.
In the meantime, the garden continues to be nurtured daily by volunteers, its dozens of vegetables and herbs just waiting to be plucked free for the taking.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gala Tomorrow at 11 am.

See you in the garden tomorrow at 11 am 
for our 
Grand Opening!! 

Everyone is welcome to attend. 

Cherry Tomatoes & Beans are Ready

Elaine has announced that the cherry tomatoes and purple beans are ready for harvesting - dig in!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Seed Saving Event - Don't Miss It


Gala in the Garden - Our Grand Opening !

Gala in the Garden

Harvest season has arrived and it is time to come together to celebrate the Public Produce Project’s garden, at 121 Victoria Street.

At 11 am, the gala will commence with a brief introduction to the project. Following this, our Master Gardeners will lead an informative garden tour. At 11:30, our Mayor and City Council have been invited to lead an official ribbon cutting. We will then serve homemade refreshments and invite our community to taste the bounty that our garden has produced. The gala will wrap up between 12 and 12:30 pm. No RSVP is necessary and everyone is welcome.
This public garden project was initially funded by a grant from Interior Health Authority and is a partnership between the Kamloops Food Policy Council and the Thompson-Shuswap Master Gardeners Association.
Come out and show your support for a great community-building initiative. See you in the garden!

Email us for more information or if you would like to help out!!

Looking Great in the Garden

A few recent additions to the garden have
 transformed the lovely garden into a true masterpiece. 
None of this could have happened without 
the sustained effort of so many volunteers. 
Thank You.
Signs ! And Shale!

 Self-Watering Containers!
 A Second Trellis!
Mural!! (Biodegradable, to Boot!)
 Squash Blossoms (galore) !

Monday, August 8, 2011

Royalty in the Garden

The Miss Kamloops Ladies stopped by during Hot Night in the City to cool the plants down. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dear Public Produce,

This is a letter that we received from a community member who uses the garden on a regular basis:

Dear Sir/Madam

I would like to thank you very much for producing amazing green vegetables and allow the public for free picking. I think the people like me who don't have own land to grow green vegetable would be really getting benefited. 

Thank you so much again and I am enjoying picking the vegetables and making my meal green and healthy.

Thank You to Our Volunteers

Many a thank you must go out to the incredible volunteers that have been watering and maintaining the garden throughout the summer months. Big thank yous to those who have created signs for the garden, brought suggestion boxes on site, built benches and trellises, posted information about the plants, arranged for shale to be brought in and raked. These touches have transformed the garden into an absolutely beautiful space - a welcoming space for the community and visitors alike. 

Elaine & Pascal (Master Gardener in Training)

Elaine and her Grandson Pascal planting lettuce.