A new community garden project in Chilliwack will help feed hungry families and give folks with no garden space at home a place to plant their own private garden.
Chilliwack Bowls of Hope Society just launched its community garden program on Wolfe Road in partnership with the City of Chilliwack and the University of the Fraser Valley’s Agriculture Student Association.
“We want to teach people about what food is in season, what is realistic to grow, insects, pests, weeds and proper composting,” said Stewart Fuoco, president of the UFV Agriculture Student Association. “Pretty much how to have a stronger local food system and teach people to be food citizens so people will have a better understanding of where our food comes from and how we can grow it.”
The community garden is on a five-acre parcel of city land but they are only using one acre of it this year, and are hoping to expand in the future. They made an agreement with the city where Bowls of Hope Society gets to use the land at no charge, but the society must maintain it.
There are three areas of the community garden: the communal garden, private plots and a gathering space.
The communal garden is open to anyone who wants to volunteer their time planting, weeding and maintaining the space. Food from the communal garden will go towards food security programs, such as Bowls of Hope’s ‘Feed the Children’ program where they feed 900 kids in 24 schools throughout the Chilliwack School District.
But the food will also be shared between those who help out at the communal garden. It’s a way for folks, who may not be able to commit to a private plot, to get fresh and locally grown produce at no cost.
There will also be some people who come to volunteer in the communal garden but they won’t want any of the harvest, added Cindy Waters, executive director with Bowls of Hope Society.
“They’re happy for it to go to some of our programs or to people in need,” she said.
The private plots come in four different sizes ranging from less than 50 square feet to larger than 200 square feet, and the price is $25 to $60 per year. There are raised plots for those with mobility issues and plots right in the ground.
“We basically want to have some sort of fee so that people have a feel of ownership over their private plot… as well as the fee helps us for regular maintenance of what we need to buy for everybody,” said Derek Voitic with Bowls of Hope.
Folks who own a private plot are asked to volunteer at least eight hours a year to the communal garden.
“They’re still involved in the community garden as a whole, but they’re given their own separate space as well,” Voitic said.
With help from Fuoco and other members of the UFV Agriculture Student Association, they will be teaching gardening skills and are hoping to bring people in to do demonstrations on how to preserve and cook what they’ve harvested.
The gardens will be as natural and close to organic as possible and pesticides will not be allowed.
All tools will be provided and the only thing people need to bring are their own seeds and plants.
“We are very appreciative to the City of Chilliwack for giving us this opportunity,” Waters said. “We could not do it without them. Especially now with the inflation and rising cost of food, it is so important for food sovereignty in our community for people to have access to growing their own food.”
Other community members include: Canex which donated wood for the raised beds and shed, Westform which donated siding for shed, Fortin’s Supply which donated all garden tools, and local Rotary clubs.
The Chilliwack Bowls of Hope Society community garden is located at 44825 Wolfe Rd.
For more, including application forms and garden guidelines, go to the Bowls of Hope community garden page, or email Derek Voitic at firstname.lastname@example.org.