Gardening with purpose

PROJECT ABUNDANCE: | Dan Cebuliak is challenging the way people garden.

Dan Cebuliak screens topsoil in a residential backyard that he is turning into one large garden.

Dan Cebuliak has been busy converting a residential backyard into a garden in the heart of Port Alberni. But his idea is so much more than growing a few vegetables.

The importance of Cebuliak’s Project Abundance “is to show how much abundance of vegetables a garden can produce,” he says. “This year I think I’ll be hard-pressed for 3,000 pounds. Next year I think I can get 8–10,000 pounds” out of a single backyard.

Food is only one part of Cebuliak’s equation: the other is creating jobs, and ultimately an alternate economy.

There are thousands of people on income assistance and not enough jobs to go around. People are going hungry, said Cebuliak, who is part of Citizens for a Local Economy. He would like to see people on income assistance helping with these gardens so they can trade labour for food.

“The more people that get involved the more we can start looking at an alternate currency,” he said.

“The whole concept is to make a person’s cash stretch further.

“Call it a ‘thrive currency’.”

Cebuliak kicked off Project Abundance after a resident—who wanted to remain anonymous—came forward and offered his yard. The man had gardened at one time but was no longer able to keep up with it, and thought it would be a good way for Cebuliak to start.

There were already 22 garden boxes built, but they were hiding among three-foot-high weeds. Cebuliak started clearing out the weeds in mid-May, and by June had already planted in most of the boxes and come up with a plan for more.

“I hope to be up to 34 boxes by next spring to get everything planted,” he said.

He has planted beans, zucchini, cucumbers, kohlrabi, peas, lettuce, radishes, spinach and carrots and has hothouse tomatoes growing in the greenhouse.

The carport will be converted to a potting shed, and Cebuliak will put up a second greenhouse.

He has six rain barrels to hook up. He spent $20 on seeds, and borrowed more from the seed library at the Port Alberni public library. The CFLE will hold a fundraiser to help with costs.

The project has “very little cash outlay,” Cebuliak said.

“We’re creating what we can with what we’ve got.”

Cebuliak said each backyard garden could use about three people working it.

“If you could get 1,000 yards, and get three people per yard, that’s 3,000 people working right there,” he said.

Estimating each yard’s yield to be about 6,000 pounds, and keeping in mind those who work the yard are entitled to some of the yield, “that’s six million pounds of groceries,” he said.

Cebuliak has already heard from another neighbour near the first yard who has offered his backyard for a Project Abundance garden. Cebuliak hopes to start converting it later this summer, and is looking for more participants in the program. He can be reached via e-mail at

Just Posted

Vehicle catches fire near China Creek Marina

No injuries in blaze, according to witnesses

North Island College issues brief statement on bomb threat

Threat forced college to close all campuses for one day

Premier wades into fishery closure debate

John Horgan questions the federal government’s approach

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Horse riders resurrect public riding ring near Port Alberni

Open house planned for July 22 so public can check out Beaver Creek facility

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

VIDEO: Firefighters put out brush fire in Nanaimo

Fire broke out in the area of a new development under construction in East Wellington

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Most Read