It’s always a pleasure to speak with our neighbors in Canada, and it’s clear the community garden movement there is alive and thriving. Judy Stafford and Naomi Kulhawy are two of Kin Park Community Garden’s biggest supporters, with Judy as executive director and Naomi as the farm director.
The small city of Duncan (pop. 5,045 in 2021), is located on beautiful Vancouver Island in British Columbia and boasts the world’s largest collection of outdoor totems. Located on the traditional lands of the Cowichan First Nation, the Cowichan peoples have lived here for millennia.
Duncan’s community garden was first established in 2006, and expanded in 2010 to add a quarter acre market garden. The entire landscape is committed to edible plants, including berry bushes and fruit trees.
Community Garden and Urban Farm
Now with a working urban farm on one side of the park and a thriving community garden on the other side, the garden welcomes members of the community of all ages and backgrounds. Kin Park Youth Urban Farm, an integral part of the larger garden project, is a truly unique space. The farm is unfenced and open for the public to explore at any time.
Kin Park Youth Urban Farm is a program that aims to equip and inspire youth and the larger community in growing food. Young people assist with caring for the community garden, and community garden members share their valuable experience with the youth.
Cowichan Green Community‘s mandate is to improve food security by developing strong relationships with local food producers, increasing the town’s capacity for local food production (both urban and rural), and empowering people with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to feed their community. The majority of the garden’s 35 raised beds are leased out to gardeners in the community, in addition to those developed by the Kin Park Urban Youth Farm.
The Environmental Stewardship class at Cowichan Secondary school has taken responsibility for four of the beds that are devoted to local food banks. The students are in the garden weekly to prep, seed, transplant and tend the gardens in a self-directed project that has brought them a greater connection with their community as they contribute to food security in the region!
The demand for community garden plots has increased significantly over the years. With help from Gardening Know How’s grant, the lumber, screws, hardware, soil and compost are supplemented for repairing the existing garden beds and building new ones. Students from several schools visit the park throughout the year with two high school classes, Environmental Stewardship (grade 11/12 students) and Earth Sciences (grade 11) joining weekly. These students will assist in constructing and repairing the beds.
Visit this incredible garden’s Facebook and Instagram pages to learn more about how beautifully their system not only serves the purpose of feeding the community, but promotes the education of students in the region about gardening, self-sufficiency, responsibility and sense of community.
And make sure to check out this short video that highlights the Cowichan regions garden efforts over the year of 2022, with a short presentation from our new friend, Naomi.
Every year, Gardening Know How awards $1,000 to 20 different, hand-picked garden projects across the United States and Canada. If your community or school garden has a growing, unmet need for more soil, seeds, fertilizers, building materials, or even just help getting the word out about your program, we’re ready and willing to help you meet those needs. As community gardens and school gardening programs spring up all over, we’re happy to do our part to help. Learn more about our grant program here.
Interested in learning more about school or community gardens? Visit our Community Gardening for Everyone page today.