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Money doesn't grow on Vernon's community garden trees

January 07, 2013 - 1:08 PM

An enhanced community garden program hinges not on the green thumbs of Greater Vernon, but on their leaf coloured bills.

Wendy Aasen, a community garden representative, says Vernon needs a garden coordinator to ensure the city's community plots remain viable. Three gardens crop up in Vernon: East Hill Allotment garden, West Vernon Allotment garden, and the new Patchwork Farms at Okanagan College. At the moment, these gardens are run by volunteers, something Aasen says needs to change.

"If we want to invest in community gardens, we need to look at a structure that will support them," Aasen says, noting a paid garden coordinator is key.

Volunteers may have been adequate for managing the two allotment gardens, but Aasen says with the new Patchwork Farms, the need for leadership is strong. Kindale Developmental Association is the lead agency for Patchwork, and is willing to assume responsibility for all the gardens, and the paid coordinator, if funds are provided.

Aasen asked Greater Vernon officials to consider contributing $16,000 in 2013, up from $6,000 in 2012, to hire a garden coordinator to oversee the garden operations.

"We really think this is a small investment with a big pay-off," she said. "Greater Vernon communities support community gardens and demand is growing."

She added that gardening is an inclusive activity, bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together.

"Gardening is the most popular recreational activity next to walking," she said.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee had a few questions for Aasen before discussing the $10,000 contribution.

Director Catherine Lord wondered how many and what type of people use the gardens.

"Most gardeners are there because they have no space of their own," Aasen said. "(And) it does supplement some food budgets substantially."

Lord doubted there would be much public interest in Patchwork Gardens. "I can see the college using it as a teaching aid, and the Kindale Association, but the general public?"

Aasen said a flourishing garden next to Okanagan College, and potentially the new sports facility, would demonstrate Vernon's wealth and support of agriculture. She also emphasized gardening as a legitimate leisure activity, one which falls under GVAC's mandate.

GVAC chair Mike Macnabb said, "I think this is a very valuable asset to the community."

—Charlotte Helston
chelston@infotelnews.ca
(250)-309-5230

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
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