How does your (Winter) garden grow?

Tasty ideas cap two years of Grow Local programming

As Alberni Valley growers celebrate the height of harvest season, the Grow Local team asks, what are you growing this winter?

The question is the focus of a September workshop exploring the possibilities of winter food growing, one of many initiatives undertaken over the past two years by the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District’s provincially supported Grow Local program.

“We’ve focused on the urban grower and building people’s confidence and capacity to grow their own food,” explains Anna Lewis, an agricultural support worker with the district, along with Heather Shobe.

Initiatives have included a workshop series, community events and various other educational opportunities.

But there are still opportunities to get involved:

• Fall Fair: Visit the Grow Local booth at the Alberni District Fall Fair, Sept. 6 to 9, where you’ll find a host of information geared to food growing and fun activities for the kids.

• Winter food growing: Sept. 15 brings Grow Local’s final workshop, where Lewis will explore the opportunities for winter growing. “A lot of people don’t realize that because of our amazing climate we can grow year-round,” Lewis says.

The workshop is free, but people are asked to pre-register at 250-735-0520 or email growlocal.acrd@gmail.com

And be sure to bring your questions: “People can come with any kind of garden or growing questions they may have – we’re always happy to provide guidance to help their growing be more successful,” Lewis says.

• Family Farm Day: The eighth annual Family Farm Day wraps up summer Sept. 16. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., be inspired for your own garden by seeing all that Alberni Valley farmers are growing. Among the seven participating farms is the Seventh Avenue Urban Farm, working to show how boulevards, alleys and other urban settings can offer valuable – and fruitful – growing space for aesthetically pleasing, deer-resistant growing. “We’re seeing a lot of creativity and ingenuity.”

The tour is an opportunity to see and taste the diversity of fresh, local goodies produced on local farms, and pick up a recipe book filled with tasty ideas.

The diversity of what’s grown and produced here still surprises people, Lewis says. “People are always surprised, saying ‘I didn’t know we can do that!’”

Watch for a map online closer to the event date online or pick up a brochure at the Echo Centre, the Chamber of Commerce and the ACRD office.

Sharing success:

Following this month’s programs, the Grow Local team will submit a report to the province, highlighting the numerous Alberni Valley initiatives – well-received by the public.

“The feedback from the public has been great,” Lewis says. “These programs have really empowered people with the information they need to grow successfully.”

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