With 53 vegetable plots spoken for and a wait-list for additional ones, Squamish has an appetite for growing greens, says the manager of the town's newest community garden.
During the past four weekends, the Squamish Climate Action Network (Squamish CAN) has transformed the once-vacant lot on the corner of Main Street and Cleveland Avenue into rows of veggie beds. The garden is the result of contributions from a lot of dedicated residents and volunteers, said Carolyn Morris.
“The enthusiasm is amazing around town,” she said.
The facility was spurred on by the Discovery Farm project that was shelved last year, Morris said. Initiated by Squamish CAN, the plan was to transform an empty downtown lot, adjacent to the new community garden, into a farm to provide work and food for needy residents. Although that goal is still on the radar, so far a lack of funding has prevented it from getting off the ground.
Hearing about the farm initiative across the street, Tejinder Bhullar, owner of August Jack Motor Inn, offered Squamish CAN the use of a lot beside the motel owned by Bhullar and her husband. Setting up a garden was mutually beneficial to her business and the community, she said. The new land use places the property in a lower tax bracket, Bhullar said, noting that next year she will see savings. It also cleaned up an eyesore, she added.
Best of all, it allows Bhullar to get back into gardening, she said, noting the raised beds accommodate her back problems.
“I have my plants ready,” she said. “I have a bit of a green thumb.”
There seems to be a growing awareness of the fragility of the environment and lack of a sustainable food system in the Sea to Sky Corridor, Morris said. She hopes more businesses will consider placing community gardens on unused lots. There are enough people on the waiting list and a growing interest in urban gardening to make them viable, she said.
“If we can't grow businesses [immediately], let's grow broccoli.”
The downtown community garden is not complete, said Brad Ray, who helped build the facility. A tool shed and a wildlife-proof composting system will be put on the lot. A central space with benches and pots holding medicinal and edible plants will also be created.
“The community interest is really strong,” he said, adding up to 50 people volunteered in the garden's construction.
Squamish CAN is hosting its first workshop — a mini introduction to gardening — at the plots on Sunday (May 13) at 2 p.m. The organization is still fundraising for ongoing maintenance of the facility and future prospects, such as the farm. To donate, learn more about the community garden or sign up for a plot visit www.squamishcan.net or email firstname.lastname@example.org.