Greenways Land Trust has attained a License of Use Agreement from the city which will see them begin construction of a community garden in Charstate Park, a neighbourhood park in the Merecroft/McPhedran area. Mirror File Photo

Campbell River to get third community garden

Agreement between city and Greenways will see a corner of Charstate Park used to grow food

Campbell River will soon have a third community garden after council decided to enter into an agreement with Greenways Land Trust last week.

Cynthia Bendickson, executive director of Greenways, pitched the project to council, saying they have been planning the project since March of 2016 with various other community organizations, and is now ready to launch phase 1 of the project.

Bendickson told council there are currently waitlists to get plots at both the Campbellton Community Garden and Laughing Willow in Willow Point – the latter of which which Greenways also runs – suggesting another set of plots is required to fill the community demand.

“If you’ve visited either of those gardens, I believe you’ll agree with me that they’re fantastic assets to our community,” Bendickson told council, going on to highlight the benefits of having these types of facilities in the region.

“There’s no smaller amount of food miles that you can get than getting it our of a garden – it’s an excellent source of inexpensive, locally-produced, nutritious food,” Bendickson said, as well as providing various physical and mental health benefits to those who participate in the growing of that food within the community.

Community gardens, Bendickson said, promote community cohesion, reduce social isolation, relieve stress, provide a sense of community pride, “as well as provide a place for people to come together and work together and learn from each other.”

The specific proposal for Charstate Park is to develop 42 garden plots in 13,500 sq/ft in the northeast corner of the 2.1-acre park, “which sounds like a lot, but it would be just under 15 per cent of the total park area” Bendickson said. Subsequent phases of the project would see the incorporation of a children’s garden and a greenhouse facility, but those phases would also come before council for approval before they would proceed.

Coun. Ron Kerr asked Bendickson about how the garden facility would be watered, as there is currently no irrigation system in the section of Charstate Park in which the garden is proposed to be situated, so one would likely have to be installed.

Bendickson said they are hoping to fundraise for proper irrigation installation while they are constructing the gardens, but they didn’t want to start doing that before they had the support of council to create the facility in the first place.

“I’m really excited about this,” said Coun. Colleen Evans, who also inquired as to whether there would be an opportunity to incorporate the garden into educational opportunities with the school district should some plots be made available for schools to use. Bendickson agreed that is a possibility worth looking into should any schools be interested in using plots.

Council received and accepted a recommendation from General Manager of Operations Ron Neufeld to enter into a License of Use Agreement with Greenways, which will see phase 1 move forward, saying that because Greenways has already “demonstrated success in the establishment and management of Laughing Willow Community Garden in Willow Point,” the use for the land fits within the established Sustainable Official Community Plan and also further’s the city’s goal of having Campbell River produce at least 10 per cent of its own food by 2031, as per the city’s Agriculture Plan.

The agreement lasts five years with a renewal option. All expenses associated with the construction of the garden will be the sole responsibility of Greenways and its partners other than the construction of three on-site gravel parking stalls, which will be funded by the city’s existing operating budget.