SOOKE GARDEN CLUB: Sunriver Community Garden: Beneficial to All

Loretta Fritz | Contributed

If you have not yet visited Sunriver Community Garden during the summer-fall growing season, a delightful and eye-opening experience awaits you.

On the other hand, if you have taken advantage of any of the many opportunities to be involved with the community garden – grower, teacher/mentor, activity/event participant, volunteer – you probably have at least some idea of what it’s all about and what it brings to the broader community.

Developed and managed by the Sooke Region Community Health Initiative Society (Sooke Food Chi), the community garden embodies its builders’ vision of community members coming together to create a vibrant and sustainable food system at the local level. The key word here is local. It’s about having food that is grown locally, sold locally and eaten locally. It’s also about using local knowledge and local expertise to develop best practices for healthy and sustainable crop production.

From 60 individual allotment garden plots in 2010, the community garden has evolved into a dynamic hub of year-round activity. It now includes a community orchard and several specialty gardens, is home to the Sooke Kids Garden Club and Sooke’s annual fall apple festival, and offers a variety of community-wide learning opportunities, including school and youth programs. Each year its popular Grow a Row summer program provides thousands of pounds of fresh produce for the local food bank.

So what does it take to make a vision-driven, multi-purpose community garden flourish the way the Sunriver Community Garden has? What and how can home gardeners learn from what goes on there? These are among the questions that Anita Wasiuta, president of Sooke Food Chi, will be answering at this month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club. Wasiuta is a long-time community volunteer and leader who has received awards not only for her public service, but also for her ability to use public participation as a way to connect people with their micro communities. She is also a long-time farmer (AK Farm in Otter Point) whose passions include volunteering, community, gardening and local food sustainability.

Please join us on Wednesday, May 23, 7 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Church on Townsend Road. There will also be a parlour show and plant sale. New members are always welcome. Questions? Visit our website at sookegardenclub.ca or email us at sookegc@gmail.com.

Oh, did I mention that Sunriver Community Garden offers a feast for the eyes, not just for the stomach? Each summer it becomes a new and stunning tapestry created by the diversity (and personality) of the individual allotments surrounded by the specialty gardens, the orchard, and an array of colourful and bee-friendly plants. You don’t have to be a gardener to find a visit worthwhile.

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Loretta Fritz writes for the Sooke Garden Club.

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