Community garden leadership still uncertain

Image Credit: (CONTRIBUTED/Wendy Assen)

While Greater Vernon politicians have decided to set aside an extra $7,500 for Vernon's community gardens, how that money is dispersed remains unknown.

A few weeks ago, garden advocate Wendy Assen requested funding to hire a coordinator who would oversea the operations of Vernon's three gardens.

The money has the garden's name on it, but the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee hasn't decided if it will go towards a coordinator position.

Community development coordinator Tannis Nelson gave the committee two options for the cash. It could be distributed between existing RDNO departments that help maintain the gardens, or it could be given to Kindale Developmental Association—the project lead—who could use it to hire a coordinator. Kindale has already contributed funding for the position.

Assen presented RDNO with a garden model in 2009 which included applications for new garden development, a site inventory, and a recommendation to hire a coordinator.

"The intent was to get more gardens in more neighbourhoods," Assen says. "However, without a host organization taking care to provide this leadership, it's been impossible just relying on volunteers to organize themselves."

So she returned to the Regional District to ask again, this time with Kindale behind her.

"Having this coordinator means you can support and recruit the volunteers, who then become more proficient, and create a more sustainable model. We have other potential garden sites I'd like to expand or develop some day...but again, the leadership is needed and up until now, we haven't had it come forward."

A paid position would guarantee that leadership, but RDNO isn't certain that's how it wants to spend its cash.

Three gardens crop up in Vernon: East Hill Allotment garden, West Vernon Allotment garden, and the new Patchwork Farms at Okanagan College. Both Assen and Nelson say interest in the gardens is growing.

—Charlotte Helston


Image Credit: (CONTRIBUTED/Wendy Assen)

Image Credit: (CONTRIBUTED/Wendy Assen)

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