Deltassist’s back parking lot will soon look like these Earthwise community garden plots. (Grace Kennedy photo)

Community garden to turn barren Deltassist parking lot into a ‘paradise’

Deltassist will use the gardens to increase food security for residents, as well as provide therapy

A little slice of paradise is set to open in North Delta this fall.

Deltassist, in partnership with the Earthwise Society, is planning to install a small community garden on its property to help provide its clients with fresh produce while offering a space for seniors and volunteers to relax and experience nature hands-on.

“We’ve belonged to the Delta Food Coalition for many years and we’ve partnered with Earthwise for many projects, so we we thought ‘Well, why don’t we?’” said Lorraine Yates, manager of seniors and community services at Deltassist. “We have a huge parking lot on site and there’s a part of it out back that we don’t use that much and so we’re going to have Earthwise come in.”

The plan calls for the construction of five large garden beds with bench seating around them so people can sit while they tend to the plants , as well as a seating area with picnic tables, a rodent-proof two-stage composter developed by Earthwise, bee-friendly plants around the periphery, shrubs for privacy and a few locally-made birdhouses constructed out of reclaimed wood.

“I’m talking birdhouses that look like little miniature heritage barns,” Yates said.

The City of Delta has also donated a rain barrel to collect rain water to use in the garden.

The project is scheduled to be complete in time for an official ribbon cutting at Deltassist’s annual general meeting on Sept. 26.

Funding for the garden came by way of Deltassist’s inaugural Coldest Night of the Year walk and will not impact other services offered by the organization.

“We said when we were advertising to do the fundraising walk, part of it was going to go to food security, part of it was going to help seniors,” Yates said.

“[The garden]’s an opportunity for our volunteers to do something, it’s an opportunity for our clients to have a place to meet that is beneficial for them, and it also is an opportunity to grow food and give it away for free.

“It hits all the marks.”

As well as being a source of food for those in need and a space in which volunteers and staff can unwind, Deltassist also plans to use the garden as a space where counsellors can meet with clients and engage in horticultural therapy.

“We have different groups that deal with people that have been in either abusive relationships or children with high anxiety, we find that just being outside in nature, just working with the dirt and the plants and stuff like that, is very therapeutic,” Yates said.

“This might even be place where say we’re meeting somebody, like a client, that instead of meeting them in a meeting room, say it’s nice day, well if there’s nobody in the garden let’s go out into the garden and talk. So it also can be a very nice meeting place, it can make people feel it’s less clinical, it’s more relaxing, it’s a very nice secluded area.”

Currently, Deltassist is looking for “at least a few dozen” volunteers to help construct and fill the beds over two days later this summer and/or to work on the garden once it is planted. A date and time for the installation of the garden beds has yet to be determined and will depend on the availability of volunteers and the site manager Earthwise will be providing. Yates will contact volunteers once the schedule has been set.

Though the project’s construction is fully funded, Yates says Deltassist may ask for donations of equipment down the road, items such as a wheelbarrow, gardening tools, watering cans and, most importantly, gloves.

“People are going to show up and they’re not going to have anything, so we’re going to look for lots of gardening gloves so we can give them new ones to put on when they come here and not somebody’s old used ones,” Yates said. “We’re going to be looking for all sorts of hand-held gardening tools because, again, this is going to be the kind of garden where you’re not going to be hoeing long rows. It’s kind of more just sitting on the bench around the garden beds.”

“This parking lot is going to be a paradise in two months.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at the garden or donating equipment can contact Yates at 604-594-3455 ext.130 or lorrainey@deltassist.com.



editor@northdeltareporter.com

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