GNN gets growing with new community garden program

 By  Kathy O'Reilly,  North Island Eagle,  June 5 2020

A revival of a community gardening program is growing by leaps and bounds on the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations Reserve.

The project is being co-ordinated by Language Program/Food Security and Nutrition Co-ordinator Lucy Hemphill and Aboriginal Head Start/Daycare Manager Trina Titus.

The garden was initially started in 2012 with direction from Chief Patti Sewid and in partnership with the Elders program. The support had dwindled over the last couple of years. Due to COVID-19 the two women had to re-direct their programs, with a renewed focus on food security and they are now working hard to re-establish the garden.

Early in April, Hemphill received direction from Chief and Council to support community members in establishing veggie gardens at their homes. At that time Hemphill and Titus formed a partnership to work together running both the home garden and community garden projects.

Gardening encompasses many of the Head Start programming criteria that includes culture and language; education; health promotion; nutrition; parent, elder and family involvement; and social support, said Titus.

Starter kits with pea, bean, kale, lettuce and radish seeds, including some seeds donated by the Grassroots Garden Society will be provided to families. Grassroots has been part of this garden since the beginning and “continues to support us during our ‘re-vamp’,” said Titus.

“Right now, we have perennials such as rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries that are doing really well,” Titus said. Kale, tomatoes and cabbage have been planted and as more of the plot is reclaimed, they will continue to “grow”.

Hemphill has been working hard on this project and recently harvested raspberry leaves and will be drying and making medicinal teas for the Maternal Child Health group. The cultural component will include information about medicinal herbs, fruits and veggies and their uses as well as propagation and harvesting.

Photo — Kathy O'Reilly

Language Program/Food Security and Nutrition Co-ordinator Lucy Hemphill, foreground, and Aboriginal Head Start/Daycare Manager Trina Titus have been busy with the community gardening program on the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations Reserve.

New greenspace to soften downtown

 By Kathy O'Reilly  North Island Eagle,  June 5 2020

A new downtown greenspace is being created by General Properties Ltd. in the empty lot beside Fields in Port McNeill.

According to General Properties owner Liza Furney, development of the green space was prompted by travel, tourism, downtown, community branding and destination marketing expert Roger Brooks who visited Port McNeill on March 13.

After his tour, Brooks put together a two-hour presentation for the community that was videotaped and can be accessed through the town’s website.

The presentation really made residents see the community through the eyes of an outsider, said Furney.

One of Brooks’ observations was that while Port McNeill’s waterfront was beautiful, there was no place to gather downtown, Furney said. 

So General Properties decided to create one.

In addition to the new sod, a row of English Plane Trees has been planted, and there will be flowerbeds, planters and benches in the new park. A fence will be placed across the back to define the space.

“Then when people get something to eat at IGA, they can come and sit here,” she said.

“It will be a nice place to relax.”

Furney also envisions the space being used in the future for community activities.

“I’m thinking maybe in the future we can do small farmers markets, or anything like that, and we can cordon off chunks in the parking lot and spread it out like they do when they do OrcaFest,” she said.

“Hopefully it’s going to get well used.”

The park is part of a grander scheme for the mall.

The company will be refreshing the exterior – which is “so, so boring” with fresh coats paint.

Photo — Kathy O'Reilly

General Properties Ltd. employees Alex Scott and Mackenzie Tonkin roll and fertilize the new sod in a greenspace the company is creating in the vacant lot beside Fields.


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