Different sections have been allocated for a variety of crops at the food forest which is situated at the northeast side of the hospital’s premises. Photo by Binny Paul/Campbell River Mirror

North Island Hospital Campbell River’s campus has a new food forest

And the hospital staff is encouraging the community to come ‘nibble’ on the produce

A new food forest has been established and is being tended to by staff and volunteers at the North Island Hospital Campbell River.

The Forest is growing on a 370-square-metre plot of land near the northeast side of the hospital’s main entrance.

The brainchild of Christina Rozema, CRG site director, the idea behind a community food garden was to provide access to good food which is one of the main determinants of health.

“When I moved to Campbell River seven years ago I learned that the city produced only one per cent of its own food, which is very low compared to many places on Vancouver Island,” said Rozema.

At the same time, the garden also provides a peaceful place outside of the hospital setting for staff and patients to relax and enjoy the benefits of nature.

Stacey Marsh, the executive director of Campbell River Hospital Foundation said that the food forest project supports healing in a “different way.”

“Studies suggest that simply being in settings with plants and nature for even a few minutes can promote measurable restoration and help reduce stress,” said Marsh.

Construction of the site began in February after they received funding from the Hospital Foundation.

Greenways Land Trust came on board to help create the food forest. Since February, the gravel was cleared and replaced with soil, wheelchair-accessible paths and a small gazebo were built.

Planting began in May with several varieties of crops such as daikon radish, clover, berry shrubs, rhubarb, chives, onions and sunflowers among others.

Fruit trees will be planted in September and will include mulberries, jujube, plum, apple and pear.

As community involvement started increasing, local businesses like Five Star Aggregate & Excavating, Windsor Mill Sales, and the hospital’s maintenance partners Honeywell also helped out by donating supplies.

Rozema encourages people from the community to come sit and relax in the garden or “nibble on” the available produce or even participate in maintaining the garden.

“Over time, I really want this small garden to reflect the heart of the hospital and nourish the body and soul of all who wander through it.”​

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