Trail food banks welcomed a bounty of fresh veggies this summer after a school-wide initiative took root and grew into the J.L. Crowe Community Garden.
Local green thumbs pitched in to mentor students when the pilot project broke ground for Earth Day (April 22).
The community garden was spearheaded by Colin Adamson, teacher for the Sustainable Resources and Outdoor Academy program.
The program blossomed when school groups such as BC First Nations, grades 8-10 science classes, and Biology 11 and 12 students, dug into the project.
“The local spin-off is the reward in being able to provide good food to organizations that can use it,” said Adamson.
The enclosed garden, located across from the Fieldhouse on Crowe grounds, has 12 raised beds growing a variety of produce ranging from green beans and salad to squash and zucchinis.
Over the summer, with help from Crowe teacher Doug Bruce and wife Lorelei, the garden has produced hundreds of pounds of vegetables, donated to food banks in Kate’s Kitchen, the United Church and St. Andrews Anglican.
“It’s unbelievable how much we have picked from the garden,” said Bruce.
“The food banks are so appreciative to get anything fresh, and it has literally been picked minutes before we bring it in.”
Marylynn Rakuson, a longtime volunteer at the Trail United Church, said the donated produce has been a welcome addition to the food bank pantry.
The gift of fresh food has helped to balance the monthly grocery budget, and provided more than 100 people with variety to a usual diet of pasta and canned items.
The patrons are excited this time of year because they don’t have space for a garden, said Rakuson. “As quick as it comes in, it is off the shelves.”
Chelsea Kerr, an outreach worker for Career Development Services (CDS) in downtown Trail, worked with youth who agreed to take care of the garden and pick the vegetables in July and August to share with other CDS clients.
“It’s been a great opportunity for our clients who do not have a garden of their own,” said Kerr. “And we could put fresh vegetables in the hands of people who may not always have access to naturally grown vegetables.”
After the garden is harvested and cold weather sets in, Crowe students will continue to sow seeds throughout winter in a large outdoor greenhouse that will be installed on school grounds this fall.
“This will provide us the ability to grow many local greening trees, shrubs and bushes for the surrounding area,” said Adamson, “and further grow our ability to provide real hands-on experiential learning in the area of agriculture, ecology and plant biology.”
Outside organizations such as Teck, and the Camas Society will work with students to increase local greenery by growing plants native to the area.