A project that began as a volunteer initiative to give residents a chance to grow some garden items will benefit community members in need this year.
The Bashaw Community Garden is in its tenth summer with this year’s harvest slated for donation to the local food bank operated by Bashaw District Support Services (BDSS).
Organizer Ben Wilson, along with a number of other community members, got to work on May 18 on making the five raised 8 foot by 16 foot beds ready and then doing the planting.
“This year, we gathered a few volunteers so we could get the seeds planted before some forecasted rain,” said Wilson.
“We got seeds donated from Bashaw Farm and Building Supply this year as well as from some individual donors who had seed leftover from their own gardens.”
Normally, the garden is left open to the community to freely use — with hopes that some will stop by and pull weeds during the season — then enjoy the harvest when it is ready to pick.
However, Wilson explained this year is somewhat different due to the pandemic.
“This year, with the increased use of the food bank at BDSS, we decided to use all of the gardens to grow food specifically for the food bank,” he said.
“We have also called on some support from the BDSS summer students to help with weeding and watering the garden when needed, in addition to any volunteers who are able and interested in helping with ongoing maintenance and weeding.”
While the garden will help feed people later on, Wilson added it also generated something that has been lacking for the past two months.
“Getting together with friends I hadn’t seen much in a long time was a much needed bonus, on top of getting the garden planted,” he said.
“It was really fun, especially because most of us are very rookie gardeners and don’t really know what we’re doing, so we learned from each other and had a lot of laughs. I think that’s what the community garden is really supposed to be about — bringing people together and forming connections, through the process of growing food.
“With COVID-19 closing the church for services, it will be especially beneficial to have an outdoor space where anyone is welcome to visit, admire the garden, get away from home isolation for a while plus get their hands in the soil and connect with both the Earth and other community members.”
Wilson and his eight-year-old daughter Elise were joined by Lori Miller, Rev. Robin King, Grant McKenzie and Morgan Benoit to get the planting completed.
“We planted a lot of root vegetables because they have a longer shelf life, which works well for the food bank, so there is a lot of potatoes, carrots and beets,” he said, adding with a chuckle that the beets were done specifically because King hates them.
“The garden is also beautiful to look at for those walking, biking or driving by. I also think it has always served as a visual reminder to the community that our church is a place where all are welcome — not just on Sundays but every day — and that it’s a safe and inclusive place of growth, well-being, abundance, and where life thrives by all of us nurturing it together.”