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View Of The Garden Boxes


Community Garden Grows Food and Friendships

The sign at the gate to Mountain View Community Garden in Campbell River tells the beginning of a story: Our garden is now a vibrant, green community of gardeners who are planting and harvesting fresh produce and developing new relationships.

Mountain View Community Garden Sign
This sign greets gardeners as they approach the community gardens

It is in the gardens, that the story unfolds. Laureen and Chris are tending the box that is leased by Communitas Supportive Care Society. Laureen is a Community Inclusion Worker with Communitas. She and Chris visit Mountain View regularly. It’s early June and already their garden is providing a harvest of chives and strawberries. The garlic plants are over a foot tall and the raspberries and thornless blackberries are beginning to show flowers and fruit. Peas are forming and Marigolds help with pest control. Two mystery plants have sprouted and Laureen and Chris talk about what they may be.

“We think it might be a potato plant and a carrot plant,” Laureen says. Chris nods his head in agreement.

Laureen And Chris Tending The Garden
Laureen and Chris pick some of the first strawberries from the Communitas garden box

The garden box is a wonderful way for people who participate in the Community Inclusion services at Communitas to get outdoors and learn more about nature. Nearly a dozen people enjoy being in the sunshine and getting their hands dirty. The bed is slightly raised, which makes it accessible to people who use a wheelchair. Chris is very enthusiastic.

“I like to plant and to eat,” Chris says.

Laureen adds that Chris is also good at tending the garden as things grow and faithfully participates right into the fall when the garden is put to bed. He also enjoys interacting with the other gardeners.

Jeff Groat Greenways, Chris And Laureen
Jeff, Chris, and Laureen stand next to the Communitas garden box

The community gardens are organized by the Greenways Land Trust. Greenways began in Campbell River in 1996, right around the same time that Communitas began its services here. Jeff Groat is the Outreach and Food Security Organizer for Greenways. He says the gardens are important for a number of reasons. Gardens are often in places where land is underutilized. Growing food instead of grass is better for the environment, attracting pollinators and sequestering carbon. But the most important thing about a community garden is community.

“Communities are made up of people with many stories, backgrounds, and abilities and we’re all part of a bigger story,” Jeff says. “The community gardens are a great way to bring people together who wouldn’t necessarily be together otherwise.”

Community grows along with fruit and veggies as people share their harvests with each other or help each other out.

“We meet all kinds of people and share veggies from our gardens with each other,” Laureen says. “If someone is going on vacation, they’ll ask if we can water their garden box while they’re away. There’s lots of wonderful interaction.”

Mountain View Food Forest
Food Forests are free for anyone in the community to enjoy

Food security is an important part of Greenways’ land stewardship efforts. Along with community garden boxes, volunteers have also created two Food Forests, one of which is right next to the Mountain View Community Gardens. The forest includes fruit and nut trees, haskap and kiwi bushes, and ground cover foods like strawberries, chives, and herbs. These forests serve as a free food source and an opportunity to educate the public about environmentally-friendly gardening practices.

“I like the fact that Greenways is involved with food security, it’s an important part of conservation,” Jeff says. “The Food Forests and the community gardens respect land use and that really speaks to me.”

It is clear that Chris is enjoying the story of the gardens too. He is eager to share in it. His face lights up as he hands his visitors a freshly picked strawberry, anticipating their enjoyment.

“It’s so sweet!” Jeff says.

“Yes!” Chris confirms, with a big smile. “Sweet!”

A perfect ending to this chapter in the story of community and gardens.

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