It’s just starting while I write this. The golden/green fields, the zucchinis piling up in my car when I visit friends, the trees along the road laden with fruit ripening in the hot August sun. I am setting up my dehydrator, digging out my canner, washing the dust of summer off of my empty jars for harvesting. I love it. This year it’s even better than ever where I live, because now, there is a community garden. People who never had a place of their own to grow things in their lives are having a chance to experience a small amount of self-sufficiency, of their own food.
There is one person I know who was edgy a year or two ago, living in a crowded yard filled with car parts and weeds, with arguments among closely dwelling neighbors, contemplating possibly having to move, stressed out. The community garden impacted her life in a big way, now she is cultivating flavour and beauty, enjoying the progress of a small patch of dirt as it grows and blooms, nourishing the body and soul, sprouting seeds of connection, of abundance, of joy in her life. Her eyes light up when I ask how it’s doing, the very first time I ever set foot within the fence of the community garden was to see her plot. She says it gives her sense of purpose, she honours past loved ones by planting their favorite flower. The community garden has given her the grounding experience she may have been missing in a life where one must move often.
Community gardens are reassuring that you do not need to own property to grow your own food. I often think if I had property I would plant hazelnuts and apples and fence it with living blackberry vines. I would plant herbs and let them go wild, because I would prefer a low maintenance garden that grows edible things. As it is, I help friends with their gardens, however they want to do it.
There was a community garden in Courtenay two years ago. The place was often a refuge for homeless people. There were some plots with (perennial?) plants in them that were available for
everyone to pick.
Also in Courtenay there is the fruit tree project, which is a service that coordinates people who own fruit trees with people to pick the excess fruit, and help preserve it, for the tree owner, the pickers and the food bank. This way, excess fruit gets harvested and shared. At this time of year you can see it, the fruit hanging off the trees, the pumpkins and squash lying on the ground. Community efforts are making it happen. There is a plot planted by the school, to teach kids how to garden. This is such a good idea. This year, there were more people selling homegrown produce at the market. People are becoming aware of how important it is to eat locally, and consciously choosing homegrown foods. I would like to see community gardens around in other places, and possible edible trees, flowers and plants being planted in public places. Imagine how it would help homeless people to have their own patches of fresh tomatoes and salad greens they could harvest from. Community gardens make a huge difference in people’s lives, it is my wish that all communities could have this kind of opportunity, for a harvest of hope.
Rena Patrick is a poet and commercial fisher who lives on a sailboat on Quadra Island. She is dedicated to using her talents to create a positive future wherever she can.