New public garden to help those in need

The South Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society is working on getting a public garden started this summer

A first of its kind public garden in Ashcroft is coming together, and Yoriko Susanj, executive director of the South Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society (SCEFS), hopes to be able to open it volunteer gardeners very soon.

The project is one that Susanj has wanted to pursue for some time, and will augment the SCEFS food bank program, which operates on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. Public gardens are planted and maintained by volunteers, with the produce available for free to anyone in need.

“The idea came from what Kamloops is doing,” she says. “They have public garden plots all over the city, including at bus stops, not just in one area; but in Ashcroft it made sense to have the garden in one spot.”

Susanj heard that the Village of Ashcroft was planning to move forward with a community garden in a downtown location, and approached the Village about the possibility of SCEFS becoming involved. She then asked if it would be possible for a public garden to be established on a vacant piece of ground behind the SCEFS office that was previously used as a daycare playground.

Having obtained the go-ahead, Susanj began enlisting help. “There’s been a lot of community support already coming through the office,” she says. “Numerous people already want to donate plants, and are holding them at their houses.” Koppers donated 100 untreated railway ties for the construction of raised planters, and fencing of the area has nearly been completed. Once the area has been levelled, construction of the planters can begin, with volunteers ready to start work on them as soon as the site is ready. “I’d be very happy to get them around the perimeter [of the site] this year,” says Susanj, who plans to eventually have an L-shaped bed and a picnic table in the centre of the site.

She says people can plant what they want, but that they are not looking for anything too fancy. “Our clients probably wouldn’t eat kale. Common garden things our clients will eat would be good; keep it simple. Cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, radishes.”

The ripened produce will be available for free to clients, with any excess going to the food bank for distribution. Susanj says that they are always grateful to get excess summer fruits from people who can’t use them. As there is limited storage space at the SCEFS office, she asks anyone donating fresh fruit or vegetables to bring it down the day before, or the morning of, a food bank day.

Susanj notes that food bank use has increased dramatically since she took over nine years ago. “Then, 25 individuals or families using the food bank each day was busy. Today 50 to 55 families and individuals each day is the norm.” She adds that the pattern of who is using the food bank has also changed completely.

“Nine years ago we needed infant formula, baby food, and baby diapers; those were our big expenses.” Now, however, the food bank in Ashcroft sees very few families, and those who do use it are not regulars. “We see them once or twice, because dad got laid off or they had a big unexpected expense.” Instead, says Susanj, 85 to 90 per cent of food bank users she sees today are aged 55 or older, existing on government programs. What worries her is that the vast majority of these clients—some 80 per cent—are between the ages of 55 and 65, meaning the need for the food bank will continue well into the future. “I don’t see that number going down.”

That is one of the reasons she is glad to be getting the public garden up and running this year (the community garden, in a separate location, is planned to start in 2017). The beds will be available for anyone who wants to plant them, and will be maintained by volunteers and by SCEFS clients. “It means the clients have ownership of it. And it gives them something to do, a reason to get out.”

Just Posted

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Aerial view of a wildfire at 16 Mile, 11 kilometres northwest of Cache Creek, that started on the afternoon of June 15. (Photo credit: BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire at 16 Mile now being held

Wildfire started on the afternoon of June 15 at 16 Mile, east of Highway 97

The Desert Daze Music Festival is doggone good fun, as shown in this photo from the 2019 festival, and it will be back in Spences Bridge this September. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
‘Best Little Fest in the West’ returning to Spences Bridge

Belated 10th anniversary Desert Daze festival going ahead with music, vendors, workshops, and more

Internet speed graphic, no date. Photo credit: Pixabay
Study asks for public input to show actual Internet speeds in BC communities

Federal maps showing Internet speeds might be inflated, so communities lose out on faster Internet

Fireworks are among the things now banned throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre, as the weather heats up and a dry summer looms. (Photo credit: Black Press files)
Category 2 and 3 open fires, fireworks now banned in Kamloops Fire Centre

Ban on certain types of fires and fire activities in place until Oct. 15

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Phil McLachlan/(Black Press Media
Man shot at Kamloops shopping centre

The man is believed to be in stable condition

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Most Read