Community Gardens survive internal drought - thanks in large part to city council

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
July 9th, 2015

Thanks to a successful AGM and a decision from council Monday night to offer some financial support, Castlegar’s Community Garden is now blossoming and ready to run riot into the coming seasons despite almost withering into obscurity just months ago.

“Last year we were running with a skeleton crew, just enough to keep the society afloat,” said new board chair Terran Ambrosone, adding they previously only had three board members, all of whom were stretched too thin to be effective enough to save the project themselves. “We were focussed primarily on funding and membership. We applied for a couple of grants, but unfortunately were unsuccessful in securing them. Our Facebook page was created (which now has 122 members), as well as a dedicated email address where we worked to build a contact list to keep members informed of upcoming events.”

To make it worse, most of their directors were needing to step down, so their AGM on June 23 was the determining factor in whether the society would grow or die.

“Thanks to renewed interested and enthusiasm largely generated by one of our new gardeners, Lisa Dejong, our AGM was a huge success and we came out of it with our first meeting with a full board of experienced and enthusiastic directors,” she said.

“Our most urgent business was the Insurance on the Castlegar Community Gardens, which had lapsed. We didn’t have the necessary funds to cover it, so approached the City for assistance. Thanks to Deb McIntosh and City Council who unanimously voted to cover our insurance this year ($900), we can now move forward with a renewed vision and commitment for serving our community.”

She said they are incredibly grateful for council’s help, and hope to not have to ask for it again.

“We are currently looking at ways the Society can become self-sustainable, so we are not dependent on outside sources for operational costs,” she said. “We are focussing on small, doable steps moving forward, with clear goals. Now that the urgent matter of insurance is settled, we will be focussing on fundraising for needed materials, as well as community engagement.

She said that, with food sustainability becoming ever more critical, a discerning approach is required to ensure programs like this one thrive, while meeting specific goals and criteria.

“Our goal is to beautify the Castlegar Community Gardens, making them a welcoming and interactive addition to Millennium Park, where people can come and learn about local plants and their uses, composting, vermiculture, etc.,” she said. “We are also needing to repair current beds, and build others exclusively for community use, where visitors are welcome to get their hands dirty, weeding, harvesting and grounding. Our long term goals will include more emphasis on food security, engaging with other local like-minded groups and developing educational workshops and events.

For those who would like to help out, she said there’s no shortage of ways to pitch in.

“Our most pressing needs are fencing, irrigation, signage, landscaping fabric, shed, gardening tools, and decorative ground cover such as wood chips,” she said. “Donations of the above are most welcome. You can contact us at kfssociety@gmail.com or visit our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/kootenayfoodstrategy/ .”

The new board is as follows:
Terran Ambrosone – Chair,
Nicole Hergert – Vice-Chair
Debra Randall – Secretary
Vi Krest -Treasurer
Linda Paterson- Community Garden Coordinator
Chris Halarewich – director
Linda Monro – director

They also have roughly 15 gardeners, with room for more.



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