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Raising the accessibility of community garden

Grant allows the building of raised garden beds

Spring is officially here this weekend and although the weather hasn’t been the greatest, there are still many things that can be done in the garden.

At the Sunriver Allotment Garden volunteers have been busy putting in a number of raised beds to enable those with difficulty bending the opportunity to plant a few things.

Recognizing that stooping is problematic for some, Sooke Food CHI (Community Health Initiative) applied for and received a $2,000 grant from BC Hydro for a raised bed program.

Karla Louwers, BC Hydro’s community relations representative for Vancouver Island, was in Sooke on March 9 lending a financial and physical hand to the project.

“It fits in our program perfectly — a project or initiative that is environmentally sustainable involving youth and education,” said Louwers. “It’s a big component of what this garden is. We knew it would work out perfect.”

Gardening shouldn’t be just for those who are flexible and agile, it should be something anyone can do, said Phoebe Dunbar, Sooke Food CHI volunteer.

“If anybody finds it hard to garden on the ground, we have 12 special growing spots for containment gardening,” said Dunbar. “It’s not overwhelming and we would be happy to show you how.”

Dunbar said a small donation of $15/year would help with the water bill.

“We have seeds to help people get started, some early things can be started now.”

Dunbar said people don’t need to have gardening tools as there are plenty that can be used at the garden site.

Much is in the works at the allotment garden for the 2011 growing season. Folks have started a garden planted with native plants like salmonberries, nettles, strawberries, Labrador Tea and other plants used by people of the T’Sou-ke First Nation for healing.

Emily Moreland, the garden’s technical gardening expert, will give informational talks on pruning and grafting in an effort to protect and save some of Sooke’s old apple trees. Fruit trees will be planted in a dedicated area of the garden. If you check out the Sooke Food CHI’s website you will find much helpful information and a schedule of topics Moreland will speak about. She is on site at the garden on Wednesdays and Sundays from 1:30-4 p.m. Work parties are scheduled for the first Sunday of each month from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information contact Emily at: sunriver-mentor@sookefoodchi.ca.

And of course, some of the regular garden plots are waiting for new owners to get started with spring planting.

The Sunriver Allotment Garden is in its second year and for anyone who wants to be part of a larger gardening experience, they can go to:sunrivergarden@gmail.com.

The Sunriver Allotment Garden is located on 2.5 acres on Phillips Road.

Ideas to inspire some gardeners from Emily Moreland:

• Even with a small raised bed, there are so many things that you can grow. Herbs are a fantastic and easy thing to grow. Parsley, chives, rosemary, thyme, oregano and basil (or even stevia!) are expensive to buy especially fresh but are easy to grow and take care of.

• You could have fresh, pesticide-free lettuce and salad greens from spring right through winter.

• Or maybe you love garlic. You could produce a whole year’s supply for one person in just a small space with no worries about waterlogged soil in the winter.

• If you’re a single person, it’s nice to be able to harvest just what you need and not have to buy more that you want. For example, green onions can be sown in the spring and harvested anytime right through till winter, just pull the biggest ones first and leave the rest till you want them.