Rick Boomer

Rick Boomer

Growing community through gardens in Saanich

Volunteers band together for large community garden at housing complex on Wilkinson Road

In a furious outpouring of energy, dozens of volunteers descended on a low-income complex on Wilkinson Road last Saturday, and built an expansive 10-box community garden, all in less than half a day.

The well organized workparty cleared a patch of lawn and blackberry bushes, hauled earth and hammered boxes and fence posts for a project a few years in the making.

“The veggies and fruit just need to be planted. It is ready to go,” declared Rick Boomer, director of community and care for the Saanich Baptist Church. “We came with a lawn and left with a garden. I can’t wait for people to reap the benefits.”

The 28 families at the Churchill Estates complex, run by the More than a Roof Foundation, now have an expansive garden, but for the volunteers involved, it was an exercise in giving back to the community.

Garden building was one of 10 projects for 300 Saanich Baptist volunteers in Greater Victoria last Saturday in a twice-per-year effort called “serving the city.”

“All the other projects were three hours. We were here until 5:30 p.m. on a hot day,” Boomer said. “I have to give credit to the volunteers from Saanich (Baptist) and Home Depot and this community. It was a huge undertaking to remove blackberry bushes and move soil in the heat of Saturday.”

Pamela Mae, the manager of Churchill Estates, said she’d been dreaming of building a community garden for more than a year, recognizing that many of the tenants struggle to afford high-quality fresh vegetables and fruit.

She admits getting all residents on board “was a tough nut to crack.”

“People were worried kids would lose play space,” she said. “But when they saw what was being built, they said ‘It’s incredible. I want in.’ Now that there is a visual, people are excited about it.

“Ultimately I envision this to be much more than a community garden. This will bring people together. I’d like to see this continue on as a harvest and a meal together.”

Kathleen Busch, a former pastor with the Mennonite church and who works for Woodwynn Farms, was instrumental in drawing in the Baptist volunteers and finding grants from Home Depot ($2,500), the Mennonite City on a Hill Church ($2,500) and private donations.

Allowing residents to grow their own food just made sense, she said.

“The rising cost of food and the recession has hit a lot of people hard,” she said. “I thought it was a great idea to build a community garden for nutritional affordable food.”

Despite her organizational efforts, Busch wasn’t able to help build the garden – she was overseeing 60 volunteers sent by the Saanich Baptists to Woodwynn Farm.

Boomer noted that Home Depot was eager to step up in both gift cards and manpower.

“Home Depot asked: ‘What can we do to help? We want to be involved,’” Boomer said.

“They don’t sell these (garden boxes), so they had guys in their workshop at night cutting and building boxes for us.”

The Baptist volunteers and the housing complex are already contemplating building another set of gardens next year.

“If our tenants are interested in growing their own food, we are going to try to make that happen,” Lorne Epp, executive director of More than a Roof, a Mennonite organization. “Community gardens have been a valuable tenant relations activity – getting people outside and together growing food and enjoying the outcomes together.”

editor@saanichnews.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rebecca Lang of Any Thyme Gardening installed a seed exchange library in front of her home on Beechwood Avenue. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Victoria gardeners scramble to create local seed exchanges

Fairfield resident’s seed exchange an instant hit

On Feb. 27, a construction vehicle remained on the site of the former encampment between the Pat Bay Highway and McKenzie Avenue as part a clean-up effort. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Encampment between Pat Bay Highway, McKenzie Avenue cleared, all residents relocated

Efforts to disband encampment resumed after January fire

Sooke resident Nathan Hanson popped both his driver’s side tires on a pothole near a construction site on Sooke Road. Hanson said he was following a line of traffic and was just before the 17 Mile Pub when he drove over the pothole. (Photo contributed/Nathan Hanson)
Driver blows two tires on pothole near construction site on Sooke Road

Ministry of Transportation says keeping highways in good condition a priority

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 from Vancouver to Victoria Feb. 28 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
COVID-19 exposure found on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 Feb. 28 affected

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Most Read