VANDERHOOF – Close to 200 residents of all ages and various connections to the community garden gathered on Wednesday evening August 30 to celebrate another year of growing and eating healthy local food.
Michelle Roberge took the mic and spoke about all the ways that we can eat local in our community. “You can grow food in your garden, you can buy from a local producer or you can come here and garden here. School children to new gardeners to experienced gardners come here, it’s a lovely space for everyone,” she said.
“This space is here for a couple of reasons – the school board offered this property for us to use, it was just a vacant lot and now it’s a beautiful growing space.”
The District of Vanderhoof also helped fund the dinner and the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako provided funding for some raffle draws and t-shirts for the local food producers.
“If you see this green t-shirt you can go up to them and ask them what they grow,” said Michelle Roberge.
Dinner was catered by Chelise and her team at SFN Catering, using pretty much all ingredients from local food producers. Kristin and the YMCA team helped organise the event. Also the NWRI team were ready to reycle and compost everything. “Thank you to all the volunteers of the community garden the Healthy Food Network the Nechako Healthy Community Aliance and the Farm to School program who all put in effort to keep this garden looking beautiful.”
There was plenty of information available – tables with volunteers to answer questions, handouts and posters on why it’s good to eat local, connecting consumers and producers and the 2017 local food directory booklet as well. There were draws for the composter and baskets of locally grown produce, with “donations all going back into the garden to maintain it and help it grow so we can include more and more people here every year.”
There was even live music complements of a talented trio who call themselves “Cluster Funk”.
Community gardener and volunteer, Don Holloway, gave tours of the garden to explain the different areas.
There is a free preserving workshop coming up in the fall for anyone interested in canning or wanting to learn how to do that.
Michelle pointed out one wonderful addition to the garden – a beautiful set of table and chairs.
“There is a story behind the table. All the wood for the table was going to be waste wood burned in a slash pile. A gentleman named Dean Lorman took that wood and created the furniture for everyone to use and it has been a used every day,” said Roberge.
Mayor Thiessen also said a few words; “What a great thing to be part of this community. The Mayor of Prince George came to visit the other day to find out what makes a small town tick and the first stop on his tour was this community garden. It says a lot about who we are as a community.
“The fact that we can come out and be here and enjoy produce that has been grown in our community and have times like this together. It is very special, you’re not going to get this in just any place and I am so thankful for al the work. It doesn’t happen by accident it happens with a lot of work and a lot of planning.”
Present at the celebration was Jay Hallet who can be credited with the vision for how the community garden looks today. He used his landscape architecture skills to design the layout. He produced a set of drawings back in 2004 which had details of the entrance archway, the gazebo, storage shed, washroom and the positioning of the greenhouses and the garden, raised beds and fruit trees.
Allen Pagdin was there too, he is a key contributor to the community garden, a craftsman who build the beautiful, solid structures. His father in-law Henry Klassen in attendance too is the generous person who donated all the cedar.
“It’s neat to be a part of a community that works together on a project of this magnitute, and I know that some people were starting to give up as we were trying to find a location years ago, and I’m so thankful.It is a real showpiece of the community,” said Mayor Thiessen.
After the speeches people were hungry and ready to eat, but only after elders and people who needed help went first.
On the three course menu was a garden vegetable and bean salad starters, chicken vegetable soup, salisbury steak, roasted potatoes and mixed vegetables for main course, and apple cake and rhubard apple crisp for dessert and to drink; homemade iced tea infused with local honey.