What is special at this community garden is how the volunteers and supporters define “food.” It’s not just vegetables and greens grown on this unique Phillips Road site, it’s also berries, fruit, hops, grapes, kiwi and globe artichokes to name a few.
Food includes nutriments of the plants, materials for the mind and many other edibles, plants and herbs. Since the native pond garden was constructed this time last fall, many people have visited the wetlands pond and seen different native plants growing nestled in the wetland habitat, designed to support the ecology of the entire garden.
This past summer a handful of Sooke citizens came forward – herbalists (Hillary Rudd and Glyce Clarkston) health practioners (Jeff and Jennifer Gratton) and young mums. They all had one thing in common — the desire to be involved with growing more medicinal and cultural plants and shrubs, plants common to our area, that can be used for healing applications — salves and poultices applied to the skin, drunk as teas or used to flavour other foods. There wasn’t much room left in the native gardens to support more planting, so we decided to plan a very special healing teaching garden near the entrance to the pond garden – designed by Hillary and Glyse, based on traditional medicine wheels.
At about the same time these chats started one of the Camosun horticulture instructors, Lisa Greig, who lives up Phillips Road came by to volunteer and suggested we get the students from the Camosun class to help us with the development of the healing garden project.
The day to put in the infrastructure for this medicine wheel garden was Wednesday, October 23. Thirteen students with two instructors, Gordon and Lisa, arrived to put in a full day’s work. The students learned many things this sunny day, including assisting Sunriver gardeners in digging close to 80 feet of new drainage ditches, checking the fall of the land, planting more native berries next to the orchard, laying down slate paths, finding true north for the four elements healing circle, and beginning the transplanting of the many plants donated by Hillary and Camosun college. The students are propagating native plants at their Royal Roads school and Sunriver gardens is one of the beneficiaries!
At the end of the day, the initial phase of the healing garden is completed, native pond garden weeded, new berries planted, and more drains were installed. The public is welcome to come and visit this new project, and become involved should one wish.
Though the generous funding this past year from TD Friends of the Environment and EPCOR Food Chi has successfully sustained a garden that will grow many different foods, all contributing to the health of many and the wellness of our community.
Once the garden is established there will be a number of workshops on healing plants and their uses offered at the apple shack, the new learning centre built this past summer in the Sunriver Community orchard.
Food CHI and many of our garden volunteers who were with us last Wednesday with to thank this exceptional horticulture class who possess a wonderful work ethic, keen interest in native and healing plants and desire to work out in the community.
Submitted by Phoebe Dunbar