The Shuswap Food Action Society prepares to launch a new community garden in Salmon Arm – Salmon Arm News

The Shuswap Food Action Society is preparing to launch a new community garden in Salmon Arm just in time for the spring growing season.

Shuswap Food Action has partnered with the Shuswap Agricultural Society to create the John McLeod Community Garden.

Twenty-five individual garden beds are going to be installed at 490 Fifth Ave. SW, on city land that is leased by the Shuswap Agricultural Society.

Residents can sign up and pay a $20 annual fee to have the use of one of the garden beds, and there will also be a larger communal garden around the exterior of the area that will feature less space efficient plants like herbs, rhubarbs and strawberries that will be free for members to take what they need.

The Shuswap Food Action Society is hiring a resident gardener who will look after the communal garden.

John McLeod’s legacy

McLeod was a former president of the Shuswap Food Action Society as well as a stalwart supporter of the Shuswap Community Teaching Garden, a member of the Environmental Advisory Committee and a key initiator of the Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Melanie Bennett, project and volunteer coordinator for Shuswap Food Action said John McLeod’s friends and family helped bring this project to fruition.

“His family chose to have a memorial account, in lieu of flowers,” Bennett said. “They asked for donations towards the Shuswap Food Action Society, and it was a considerable amount of donations.”

However getting a project like this off the ground takes more than one person.

“And we received a great donation from Eagle Homes. … We will use some of the Coldest Night of the Year funding as well,” Bennett said. “We’re really grateful, we have Canoe Forest Products donating the round cores to us to be able to build our individual gardening beds.”

She said people in the community have so far been pretty helpful.

“We’re getting help, certainly, by the businesses that we are coming to ask for help from, sometimes it’s a donation, and sometimes it’s a discount,” she said.

“We have a great community, we’re really fortunate.”

‘People need to grow food now’

Bennett said they recognize inflation has been hard on people and want the garden beds up and running as soon as possible.

“Everything right now is all happening very fast and as much as I would have loved to be able to say, let’s do this for next year, so that we have lots of time to plan this, at the same time people need to grow food now,” she said.

“So, we are just gonna barrel forward and we’re gonna make this happen this spring.”

Bennett said she is working hard to make sure everything is ready to get plants in the ground.

“Right now, I’m busy in the background, getting all of these background pieces in place, which includes some of the hardscaping to the grounds,” she said.

“I actually just had the great fortune of connecting with the college for their carpentry class to help us build some of our beds.

“Now I’ve already put in place like compost and soil delivery. So the background is all being formulated and by the end of April it will look totally different. It will be landscaped, and it will be ready for the beds to be put in place.”

Grand opening in June

Bennett said she’s gathered information from other community garden’s to ensure things run smoothly.

“There’s one that’s just actually down the street and then there’s one in Armstrong and between those two gardens, I spoke with them, I asked them, if you could do things all over again, what would you do differently?” she said.

“So I’ve taken a lot of what other people have already done to create the plan.”

Bennett said she hopes the community garden will help ease some of the burdens of inflation.

“These are the kinds of things that just need to happen and it just creates a more cohesive community atmosphere,” she said. “You know, grocery bills are high, this can help, people’s health is low, this can help.”

“There’s so many learning opportunities here … and we just really are happy that we can be at the forefront of it.”

Registration for a garden bed is available on their website and open until April 30.

You can learn more about the project or submit an application on the Shuswap Food Action Society’s website.

The grand opening of the community garden is scheduled for June 1.