A Community Garden is defined as a space where plants are grown by a community to meet that community’s needs. For the Hupačasath First Nation (HFN) its Community Garden (located just behind the new Youth Centre off of Beaver Creek Road) will help to grow skills and confidence, in addition to fresh vegetables.
The HFN recently hired UBC agriculture student Jason Lion to help plan, organize and oversee the production of the existing plot. Having already planted a crop of sweet corn which he expects to be ready for sale at the Sunset Market later this summer, Jason also has plans to grow other varieties of vegetables at the site for eventual sale.
Work on the project is far more than a one-man affair. Special thanks go out to Mr. Naesgard who helped with rototilling a new nearby area that increased the overall size of the Community Garden. Two additional community members, Alannah Tatoosh and Tammy Felsman, have also been very busy with the project which will allow the Hupačasath to grow, sell and enjoy their own vegetables.
But the project’s goals go beyond growing fresh produce, there is also the opportunity it provides to serve as a unique, hand’s on learning tool. Among the ideas being considered there are plans in play to create plots and garden boxes in the backyard of the Youth Centre to teach HFN’s young people the importance of growing food, while providing invaluable practical gardening skills.
The Community Garden is situated in proximity to the Alberni Valley Mental Health Association’s (AVMHA) greenhouse, making the area a literal center for positive, community-focused agriculture. The AVMHA sells a broad range of produce at the garden shed, depending on the crop in season at any given time. Products offered for sale so far have included kale, herbs, radishes, lettuce and even eggs from the Lee Farm.
The Hupačasath First Nation Community Garden is as much about growing hope, skills and community spirit as it is an assortment of luscious produce.