Something delicious is growing in Port Alberni and the Young Professionals of Port Alberni (YPAV) might be behind it.
Inspired by the Young Professionals of Nanaimo, the group decided to take on a community garden as one of their inaugural projects.
“We wanted to provide [a garden] for the community,” says YPAV member Sharie Marie Minions, “we want it to be a community space so we have plans to run community gardening classes. One of the members of our group, Janette Cormier, is an herbalist so she’s going to teach classes on that.”
While the group will be charging for individual boxes, they want to plant blackberry bushes along the edges of the fence so even those without access to the garden can enjoy it.
“We’ll actually have a lot of crops there that will be for anyone to come and pick [because] we want to keep it as much a community feel as possible.”
The garden is already green with new growth and there are some green tomatoes showing up but there’s still lots of work to be done.
“We have another work party for our group and anyone else in the community who wants to come help on August 10, because we’re planning on building a little garden shed and other stuff like that as well.”
Despite the work ahead, Minions is happy with the progress so far.
“We do have more plans to expand it but we’ve got it to a workable state and we’re going to just keep going slowly on it from there.”
Meanwhle, another group is also vying for a community garden.
A community garden would help feed Port Alberni’s less fortunate and supply its soup kitchen and foodbank with food, Ubuntu Port Alberni spokesperson Dan Cebuliak said.
Cebuliak plans to approach Port Alberni city council about the idea at future meeting.
Cebuliak says he has identified land in both the city and School District 70 inventories for a garden.
A tract of land behind the old Alberni District Secondary School is one of the pieces of property Cebuliak will be approaching school board officials about the project.
“The amount of food grown locally could be phenominal given the amount of land that is available,” he said.
If his request is successful, volunteers would prepare the land. Afterward, they’d dedicate three to five hours a week each to grow produce which would be used to supply the food bank, soup kitchen as well as to people living in low incomes, Cebuliak said.
“We’d sell a portion of it to at nominal prices to generate revenue which would be put back in the program.”
Cebuliak is a member of Ubuntu, a South Africa based organization with autonomous chapters around the world. Ubuntu promotes people working together to address food, water, energy and housing initiatives.
The Port Alberni chapter has 12 members and started in February, Seduliak said.
The Ubuntu project would be different from other community gardens ensconced in the Valley. “Ours would be larger in scale,” he said.
Cebuliak said he’s been percolating the idea after a conversation with Stacie Campon from the Bread of Life. “She said that donations are way down this year and that groceries are getting expensive,” Cebuliak said.
With files from Wawmeesh G. Hamilton