The Lakes District Food Bank has found a sustainable way to ensure their clients will have access to fresh produce during the summer months.
“Once the food bank took ownership of the building in October of last year, it seemed like a good fit to turn the large lot behind the building into a garden,” explained food bank coordinator Candice Little.
Burns Lake Unit Crew members have recently volunteered 223 hours to help with the construction of the new Community Kitchen Garden located behind the food bank. That’s in addition to 178 hours of manual labour put into the construction of the garden by other volunteers.
Little said new garden will operate like a traditional community garden with some spaces for individuals to grow vegetables.
“For the purpose of helping others, and to learn more about gardening, members and volunteers from the Community Kitchen Garden would share produce with the food bank,” said Little. “Produce will be used in the lunches provided by the food bank on distribution days.”
“The food bank and associated Community Kitchen Garden will centralize a variety of programs to provide access to healthy, fresh food, food skills and community engagement,” she continued. “It will offer a place for inspiration and encouragement for many people to work together - to strengthen social networks, helping to build capacity in our community for those who are food insecure.”
Earlier this year the Lakes District Family Enhancement Society received a $10,000 grant from Food Banks Canada to complete this project. Since the May 20 construction start date, the society has received substantial donations of equipment, time and materials from Blair Wilson Contracting, Silver Sky Farms Backhoe, P&B Agrimech, Tahtsa Timber and DaVern Enterprises.
The new garden, which is 240 ft long and approximately 60 ft wide, includes both raised beds and in-ground beds.
“The work completed so far is the initial development of a small raised bed allotment garden with 14 raised beds and two 18 by 36 ft in-ground share gardens,” described Burns Lake Community Garden Society Chair Tracey Payne, who’s taken the lead on this project. “It included the creation of planting spaces for berries and the planting of eight fruit trees.”
In addition, the old playground equipment was removed, and the site was levelled and shaped so there’s better flow from the front of the garden to the back.
“The site is primarily clay and gravel so it was necessary to truck in better soil for growing vegetables.”
Payne and Little said they plan to find ways to involve kids and their families in the garden.
“Perhaps in the near future we can construct a greenhouse so that we can extend the growing season, and then the garden and greenhouse could be used by school groups.”
The Community Kitchen Garden is expected to open in the spring of 2019.