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Campbell River Garden Club readies for busy ‘Year of the Garden’

City proclamation aims to recognize benefits of gardens and gardening
Members of the Campbell River Garden Club at a past meeting. Photo courtesy Doug Waller.

The Campbell River Garden Club has plans for an event-packed 2022 — a year that municipalities across Canada, including Campbell River, are proclaiming as Canada’s Year of the Garden to recognize the benefits of gardens and gardening.

Two organisations, Communities in Bloom and the Canadian Garden Council, started the proclamation initiative to not only mark the 100-year anniversary of the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, but also celebrate gardening culture.

After encouragement from the Campbell River Garden Club, Campbell River city council agreed to sign the proclamation on Jan. 24. Now the club is working on providing a range of activities and events throughout the year, to help locals grow their green thumbs and get together once again.

“We’re looking at a really, really spectacular year,” said Elizabeth deMunck, Campbell River Garden Club president.

Getting involved with the club is a way for people to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has isolated many, said deMunck.

“Being involved in the garden club has given us a bit more resilience to weather the last two years,” she said. “We’ve been able to get together — outdoors and with masks — for garden tours. For me, that helped a lot to get through the pandemic.”

Gardening is also a great way to stay in shape.

“People don’t realise what a workout gardening is,” she said. “You’re walking, you’re carrying around 20-pound pots, and you’re doing lunges and squats. It’s like my gym — and you can eat things too.”

The ‘Year of the Garden’ proclamation also honours the gardening legacy of each participating location. There has been a garden club in Campbell River continuously since 1956, under various names, including the ‘Campbell River Horticultural Association’ and the ‘Tyee Garden Club.’

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Campbell River offers one of the best climates in Canada for gardening, with a long growing season and plenty of moisture. At a time when grocery bills keep climbing higher and higher, gardening can provide a yield of fresh produce for much of the year, which offers health benefits, said Kathleen Waller, club executive member.

“Eating your own fresh-grown, local food — fruits and vegetables — helps with your immune system and health dramatically,” said Waller. “It’s just a nurturing, healthy way to live your life.”

The club has just under 90 members and new members are being sought once again. Memberships cost $20 for a person or $30 for a couple. Since the start of the year, already five or so new members have joined, she said.

Helena Gazdik, club program director, has been developing a list of events for the year, including speakers, garden tours, and workshops. February’s events include a talk by entomologist Bonnie Zand about garden pests, a trip to the Fresh Earth Products composting facility in Merville, and a photo contest through the club’s Facebook page.

“I want to revive the garden experience, because some members are still reluctant to get together in person,” said Gazdik.