Organizers envision development for community garden

By on February 7, 2018
Joleen Morrison, a director for the Nicola Vally Community Garden Society, has big plans for the upcoming year, including the installation of a gazebo, and the continued development of pathways to the garden. (Cole Wagner/Herald).

 

The Nicola Valley Community Garden is currently covered in snow, but seeds have already been planted in the minds of organizers, who envision a big year of development for the garden.

The 27-plot garden — located on a strip of land behind the Nicola Valley Hospital — has already undergone a serious transformation over the last few years as volunteers and businesses donated time and labour to help construct fencing, sheds and compost containers.

But there are even bigger construction plans ahead, said Joleen Morrison, a director on the board of the community garden society.

New gravel pathways, more signage and a brand new gazebo are all on the list of projects for this coming year.

“We’re hoping by the end of the year to have some drawings done up, so the community can see what we’re trying to do,” Morrison said, adding that a gazebo would be a good way to entice non-members to the space. “We are looking to co-ordinate with a landscape planner before we finalize where we’re putting it.”

Although the community garden consistently rents out all 27 plots each season, the society is aiming to attract new members in order to keep a fresh base of volunteers to work on community projects.

One way to attract new membership is to attract the general public to the garden itself, which is tucked behind the hospital, and not necessarily highly visible for people passing through on Voght Street.

To that end, Morrison hopes to add more signage and motivating factors — such as free-to-pick strawberries — for people to stop by on their walk around the community.

The society received a vote of confidence from the City of Merritt, which recently approved a grant-in-aid request from the community garden to the tune of $1,300.

“I am going to support this [because] this is another that has been going on now for three years and they’ve done nothing but move in the direction of straight up,” Coun. Dave Baker said, when council approved the request.

It was the second year in a row that the society was approved for a grant-in-aid application.

Membership and plot rental fees are kept as low as possible — raising only enough money to sustain the garden and the society, explained Morrison.

All of the construction is provided through grants, donations and volunteer labour.

“We’re always looking for strong volunteers, or even amateur tradesman,” she said. “Even someone who just wants to come out and labour.”

Those interested in learning more about the community garden are invited to attend the group’s annual Seed Swap event, which will take place on March 21 at the Merritt Public Library from 5:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Alternatively, if you can’t make the seed swap, Morrison said people are welcome to email the society at nicolavalleycommunitygardens@gmail.com.

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