British Columbia

Kelowna garden project aims to teach families in need how to grow their own food

New garden boxes have been set up in downtown Kelowna, B.C., as part of a project to teach immigrant families and those in need how to grow their own food. 

Project launched to help with food security amid COVID-19 pandemic

From left, Ellen Boelcke, Paul Zuurbier and Diane Bonderoff are the co-ordinators of the new community garden project in downtown Kelowna. (Dominika Lirette/CBC)

New garden boxes have been set up in downtown Kelowna, B.C., as part of a project to teach immigrant families and those in need how to grow their own food. 

Kale, Swiss chard, bok choy and other vegetables have already been planted, and project co-ordinators and case workers are evaluating which families will benefit from the end results. 

"One of the things we want to make sure is that the food goes to those who are truly in need," Ellen Boelcke, executive director of KCR Community Resources, told CBC's Dominika Lirette. 

Fourteen garden beds, raised one metre above the ground, are at about hip level, making it easier for volunteers to tend the gardens. Each bed is about 30 centimetres wide and 1.8 metres long. 

The setup of the garden boxes follow the "square foot gardening" method — raised beds divided into smaller squares for each vegetable — which is used primarily in small spaces to help food mature quickly and produce well.

Vegetables such as spinach and kale have been planted in gardens in downtown Kelowna, B.C., as part of a garden project to help teach people how to grow food, and provide food for families in need. (Dominika Lirette/CBC)

The project, a partnership between KCR Community Resources and Project Literacy Central Okanagan Society, came in response to concerns around food security as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I really hope that the takeaway from COVID-19 is that more people grow their own food," said Diane Bonderoff, community gardener with the project.

"I think gardening has exploded. I hope that stays and that people embrace gardening and raising their own food, and that it's something they enjoy and teach their families and kids."

The project is also an opportunity to show immigrant families which local foods are available, and how to grow them.

If the growing season goes well, project co-ordinators are hoping the garden will yield up to 135 kilograms of food. Bonderoff expects to start harvesting lettuce and kale in the next two weeks, and other produce will follow throughout the summer. 

With files from Dominika Lirette

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