Every year the Sunriver Allotment Gardens get a little more fertile, prolific and diverse. This year, volunteers planted 58 fruit trees and more are planned for the near future.
The Sunriver gardens are a true success story. From the original ideas put forth by the Sooke Food CHI (Community Health Initiative) the garden has grown to encompass a community. People of all ages come together to plant, learn and share their experience and their seeds. The first 50 garden plots were snapped up quicker than a seal on a salmon and no one could have predicted the success of the project.
Now, two years later, the volunteers are building espalier-style supports for the fruit trees, which will allow them to grow horizontally rather than vertically.
Glen Thelin and his apprentice Dave Nagy are putting time in at the garden in between other gardening jobs. The two of them were putting posts in by hand for the espalier.
“I donate a lot of time here,” said Thelin, who was obviously enjoying the sunshine last Wednesday afternoon.
The fruit trees include a number of varieties of apple trees, some plums and pears and cherry trees. There will also be some varieties planted from cuttings from heritage trees in the Sooke area. Volunteers have planted potatoes on the unused berm and squash in between the small fruit trees. The potatoes will be donated to groups like the local food bank.
Phoebe Dunbar was at the garden along with Emily Moreland, puttering and doing whatever needed doing. Moreland is the garden mentor and is there on Sundays and Wednesdays sharing her knowledge and advice.
Dunbar said there is always room for volunteers and they can come to the garden and pitch in with a multitude of tasks. or just check out the gardens. Often there are plots which some can no longer deal with and may be available for another avid gardener. Raised beds built for those with mobility issues are also often available.
“Just come down for tea,” said Dunbar. “Check it out.”
For those who want to learn more about composting, the Victoria Compost Education Centre will be holding a free public workshop on Saturday, June 18 from 1-3 p.m.