The latest community garden project at the old Paramount site will be a partnership between Ruth and Naomi's Mission and City of Chilliwack.

Downtown site will be third community garden in Chilliwack

New community garden at the old Paramount site will be planted by the weekend

By the time the weekend rolls around, a new community garden should be planted and ready to start growing vegetables for low-income Chilliwack residents downtown.

The latest garden project in Chilliwack will be a partnership between Ruth and Naomi’s Mission and City of Chilliwack.

“We took it on because there was strong interest shown in a community garden, with almost 40 people coming forward,” said Bill Raddatz, executive director of Ruth & Naomi’s.

They were going to use donated land that had been offered for mission use, measuring about an acre and a half. But that initial plan that didn’t work out, which left them scrambling a bit.

Then someone suggested at a board meeting that the city was possibly interested in establishing community gardens.

Back and forth communications ensued, and Ruth & Naomi’s stepped forward to become the operators and coordinators of Chilliwack’s latest community garden project.

“I never saw city hall move so quickly,” Raddatz joked.

They’re all set to go now. Up to 40 low-income residents can sign up for a free plot in the community garden. They’ll be growing a range of produce, with half set aside to go back to Ruth & Naomi’s Mission to be used in the kitchen.

“I think everyone is getting pretty excited about the garden,” he said. “It’s going to look beautiful, and be so valuable to local families.”

Other project partners aside from the city, include local businesses and donors who’ve come forward to donate lumber, soil, wood chips, mulch, plants, a shed, and more.

The plan is to put the flower gardens out front near the street with the veggie plots back from the road. It will become the third community garden in Chilliwack, alongside Gwynne Vaughan Park, and Sunshine Community Garden.

Wednesday was the work bee, with volunteers building the garden box plots. The soil was scheduled to arrive at the site on Thursday, and moved into the newly built beds. Planting is expected to start on Friday.

Some needy locals who have to spend most of their income on housing come to the mission for meals, while others may live in downtown apartments where it would be difficult to grow veggies.

“They have to take care of their garden plots. They’ll have to water them, weed them, and take pride in them.”

The best part of the garden project is “working together” in this way “for a common cause with so many community partners,” he added. “That’s what it’s all about, letting people know the community cares.”

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