Community garden set to take root

It’s just a non-descript plot of land in Sardis right now.

But a thriving community garden for Chilliwack will soon be plowed beside the Mathieson Centre on Wells Road.

It’s just a non-descript plot of land in Sardis right now.

But a thriving community garden for Chilliwack will soon be plowed beside the Mathieson Centre on Wells Road.

Food Matters Chilliwack (FMC) has joined forces with Chilliwack Society for Community Living (CSCL) in a unique partnership that will see vegetables, herbs and more grown in a half-acre plot.

Joining forces with Food Matters on a community garden “seemed like a natural fit,” said Julie Unger, CSCL director of adult day and children’s services.

The new partnership stemmed from an earlier fruit gleaning project the groups did together and it blossomed from there.

“The key word in ‘community garden’ for us is community,” said Unger.

The local agency, CSCL, supports adults with developmental disabilities, as well as children with special needs.

In conjunction with the community garden project, they’ve issued a Big Green Grow-A-Row challenge to their umbrella organizations, to see which group can grow the most food this summer for the local food bank.

“We think the garden will be an amazing opportunity for individuals we support to learn from the community about gardening, as well as to teach the community what diversity looks like,” said Unger.

The proposed garden site will be located on land donated years ago to the agency.

The cool and rainy weather this spring has delayed things by a few weeks.

“We’re hoping to get it plowed somewhere in the next two weeks,” she added.

About 40 to 50 people showed up at the first community garden meeting held last week at the Mathieson Centre, said Rachel Poupore of Food Matters Chilliwack.

“The interest in this community garden project is just skyrocketing,” she said. “It was so rewarding to get people in a room, talking about what they can bring to the table.”

Community gardens are found across the globe, especially in places where people want to grow their own food, and foster a shared sense of community at the same time, explained Jason Delisle of Food Matters Chilliwack.

There are a number of benefits of a community garden, like the educational aspects of the project they’ll be exploring, said Poupore. It could be anything from how to grow vegetables and herbs in a sustainable fashion using organic methods, to establishing a rain water collection system.

Various types of garden plots will eventually be mapped out at the site and available to a range of growers. Some could be for individuals, who live in multi-family housing without backyards, for example, while other plots will be tended by community groups. Some plots will be for Plant A Row/Grow A Row participants, while a few others might be set up to grow tall crops, or short crops specifically.

Individuals and groups are being sought as volunteers to help with the garden, to sign up for a garden plot, or to donate gardening equipment, supplies and tools. Donations of lumber to make raised beds, a toolshed and truckloads of good soil are some of the priority items needed to get the project going. To register for the CSCL Community Garden project, call Julie Unger at 604-792-7726 or email foodmatterschilliwack.gardens@gmail.com.