Wesley Cade loves working outside. Most of the time you can find the 71-year-old in the Campbellton Community Gardens, where he works as a volunteer coordinator.
In March, Cade was recognized for his contribution to the community by the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association.
The job consists of doing regular maintenance at the garden, but Cade has proven indispensable when it comes to his knowledge about all things gardening.
“I do the maintenance, I cut the grass, weed-eat and that’s about it. I also pass on all my knowledge,” he said. “I’m 71 years old and I’ve been gardening behind people’s houses for 25 years. We had a big garden at home too.”
Cade moved to Campbell River back in the 1970s. He came for the fishing and to work at the Elk Falls pulp mill and has stayed in the area ever since.
He grew up in a gardening family, and after an elbow injury left him unable to work for a few years, Cade went back to gardening, which helped heal his arm and keep his mind sharp.
“I was working the job building the bridge, and tore my tendons in my elbow… I started gardening again, working the soil… Two and a half years later, my elbow was healed up from digging and working in the soil,” he said.
Cade was an early adopter of the community garden. He signed up for two beds the first year, and quickly added two more so the organizers could move forward with a planned second phase. As he got more involved, he saw the garden grow from around 20 beds seven years ago to over 40 now.
”We started this garden I believe seven years ago,” he said. “It probably didn’t get going until July. People didn’t know how to do winter gardens, so there were quite a few beds left over. The reason I found out about this garden is because the person who started it was living in the same trailer park I was.
“I came and rented two beds, but there were still four beds left, and nobody wanted to rent them,” he added. “They needed to get them rented so they could carry on with the second phase. I rented them all.”
Though he has been a big part of the garden’s success, Cade isn’t in it for the credit.
“I’m not a social butterfly. I just like to help people out,” he said. “I’ve just passed on the information that I’ve learned over the years. We all share information here. We share seeds and share info. We’re a community together.”
“I love this kind of work. I love being outside. If they were to put me somewhere where I couldn’t go outside, I don’t know…” he added. “I’m not a social butterfly. I just like to help people out.”