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Sooke, BC: Sooke's Not So Secret Garden

  • Subject: [cg] Sooke, BC: Sooke's Not So Secret Garden
  • From: adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2006 08:27:12 -0400

  Sooke's not so secret garden 

 Pirjo Raits photo 
Devon Piche, Mathias Riveiro from Uruguay, Tara Lynne Palfy and Peter Gill from Canada World Youth help harvest the produce at the community garden at CASA.

By Pirjo Raits
Sooke News Mirror
Aug 23 2006 
The community garden at the Sooke Cooperative Association of Service Agencies (CASA) on Townsend Road, is surrounded by sweet fragrant sweet peas. Bluebirds bathe in the fountain and deer wander in and nibble here and there without destroying everything. 
The idea for a community garden came about last year around the same time as a gazebo was built with the help of local service groups. Beds were built and plans were made. Early this spring, West Coast Seeds donated seeds, garden centres donated "orphans" and volunteers donated their time to plant. Agencies at CASA were invited to plant a bed and they did. 
A serenity garden on the far end offers a place for some quiet time and reflection and is continually used by staff and clients at CASA. 
The produce grown in the garden is harvested and given to organizations such as the Transition House, Crisis Centre, the community kitchen and Vital Vitals. 
"It goes to whoever is in need," said Phoebe Dunbar. "A lot of it is happenstance. We can't grow a whole lot." 
A "whole lot" is underestimating the yield. The small beds produce beans, peas, carrots, salad greens, peppers, broccoli, squash and rhubarb. There's a few strawberries and some herbs. It is not about the quantity, it's about the freshness and availability which wouldn't be there if not for the garden itself. 
People in the community come to garden and enjoy the space, said Dunbar. One man used to have a five-acre farm and he shows up just to get his hands in the dirt - to get him back in touch. Anyone in the community is welcome to come and do a little weeding or just enjoy the garden. 
"There are always people just sitting in the garden. It's a special place to walk into," said Dunbar. "The counsellors (at CASA) see people come in and decompress out here in a nice environment. It is serving a lot of people in different ways." 
When they first began planting and organizing the garden they faced a bit of thievery, said Dunbar. "The garden is not government funded, and they didn't know that. People who are not that well off donated stuff." 
The garden area and CASA grounds used to belong to the Catholic Church, so the powers that be decided perhaps the garden needed to be blessed. A priest and hereditary chief Frank Planes blessed the place and since then nothing has been stolen and even the deer who wander into the garden nibble just a little. 
The garden is a never ending project. With the summer produce ready to harvest, the volunteers will begin planting a winter garden. 
"We can grow healthy greens 12 months of the year," said Dunbar. 
To do this they could use a few volunteers to help with the compost and the planting. Or perhaps some retired gardener or handyman might want to build something. Dunbar wouldn't say what else they could use until prompted and finally she mentioned a wheelbarrow and gardening tools. 
"Maybe something left over from garage sales," she said. 
Canada World Youth participants are busy almost daily working on the garden. Mathias Riveiro from Uruguay, Peter Gill from Mission and newly signed Sooke Stingers player Devon Piche are all putting their muscles to work at the garden. 
Any potential volunteers can call Kim at 642-6364 or Phoebe at 642-4342. 
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The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

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