The Clinton Community Garden has been put to bed after a very successful year, which saw local gardeners grow their own bounty and also yielded a lot of vegetables for the Clinton food bank.
The garden is operated and maintained by Clinton Communities in Bloom (CiB), which rents out boxes at $10 each to anyone who would like to exercise their green thumbs. This year, in a CiB initiative, some of the boxes were used to grow items for the food bank, and Andy and Yvette May tended to them over the summer.
“The plan was always to use two or three boxes to grow ‘stuff’ for the food bank,” Andy told the Journal. “It just took a few years to figure out what worked best. So Yvette and I planted, and I watered and weeded all summer. We started harvesting in August, although Yvette reminds me that we also donated a crop of celery in July. My first time growing it!”
Andy adds that he knows of several local gardeners who also donated some of the fruits (and vegetables) of their labour to the food bank. In addition to the celery, CiB was able to donate beets, beans, carrots, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes, while other gardeners also grew cabbages, peas, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, and carrots. Late beans and lettuce will continue to be harvested, along with vine-ripened tomatoes and cucumbers from the greenhouse.
Andy says that people also grew some beautiful sunflowers. In addition to lending a splash of colour to the garden, the seeds will be gathered and used to feed birds over the winter.
The greenhouse was a new addition to the community garden, as part of what Andy describes as a rebuilding year at the site. A full-size compost box was also added, and the original 2011 grow boxes (“Way past their best before date!”) were replaced.
“This year, 2020, was time for a major face-lift,” noted a season-end wrap-up about the garden. “The original grow boxes were well on the way to becoming compost. And years of never quite getting a tomato crop made a greenhouse look like a really good idea. Thanks to generous donations, lumber from West Fraser, funding from the Clinton and District Community Forest, and of course our volunteers, we were able to make it happen.”
The Village of Clinton installed a water tap adjacent to the shed and greenhouse, and Wade Dyck delivered (and unloaded) several loads of donated lumber from West Fraser. Neil Clare of Talking Stick Holdings helped demolish the old grow boxes and do the site prep for the greenhouse, and also hauled away the debris, saving a lot of work, as well as the tipping fees.
Don Shook and Andy May prefabbed the hundreds of pieces for the greenhouse in Don’s shop over the winter, and a set-up crew — Jim Rivett, Ed Schlosser, Neil Clare, and Jim Thompson — helped assemble the structure and set it in place. Don and Andy pre-cut the material for the new grow boxes, then assembled the boxes and installed top rails on all of them. Once the boxes were ready, worker bees Nancy and Jim Rempel, Lynn and Don Shook, Yvette and Andy May, and Neil Clare filled the boxes the old-fashioned way, with shovels and wheelbarrows.
Yvette and Andy filled all eleven tubs in the greenhouse, and planted a variety of tomatoes, some donated by Susan Swan. They also planted a few mystery plants, donated by Jessica Lawrence. A three-tiered herb garden stand in the centre of the dome was repurposed from the Seniors’ Association’s Canada 150 parade float.
Andy says there are more projects on the horizon. “The fence needs staining, the shed could use roofing, the picnic table needs attention, and it would be a good idea to build a properly ventilated compost bin. But hey, it’s a garden. It will never be ‘done’!”
He also notes that in addition to being a garden, the site has turned into something of a tourist attraction for the Village.
“Clinton has long boasted ‘the cleanest washrooms between Prince George and Vancouver’. Now we can brag about ‘the cutest little garden’ (a quote from a lady from Dawson Creek).”
Andy invites everyone to enjoy the garden, saying that its existence is a win for everybody.
“I get a little exercise, visitors get to enjoy our little garden, box renters get a really good growing environment, food bank clients get fresh produce, and best of all, I get fresh vine-ripened tomatoes.”