New Westminster – The City of New Westminster, in partnership with the Province’s Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, GROWcery Food Network Society, and the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association, is pleased to announce the opening of a new Community Garden in Ryall Park in Queensborough. The Province’s Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction provided more than $320,000 for the project through WorkBC’s Community and Employer Partnerships, which aims to increase employment opportunities to unemployed British Columbians through partnerships and innovative projects.
“I strongly believe in community programs like this that provide work skills to our vulnerable populations while connecting them to their community,” said Mayor Jonathan X. Coté. “Thank you to the Province for investing in our community, and also to our community partners for providing guidance to our participants and ensuring the garden is a success in growing food and cultivating relationships.”
“This Community and Employer Partnership project was a unique opportunity for individuals to experience the value and benefits of therapeutic gardening and acquire skills needed to build and maintain a community garden,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Those who participated have contributed to a lasting legacy in their community, of which they can be proud.”
The garden was completed through the program by six participants, two of whom are now employed and four are actively looking for job opportunities with their new skills and experiences. In addition, four residents of the nearby Mazarine Lodge and another individual receive funding through the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction’s Work Experience Opportunities Grant, to assist with groundskeeping activities at the garden and are each managing a raised bed garden.
The garden is a welcoming and inclusive space that intends to promote food security, ecological sustainability and strengthen community connections. It includes the following features:
- 27 raised garden plots, with two plots designed for those with mobility challenges.
- Hose-bib connections and built-in reservoirs for irrigation.
- Tool shed for access to shared tools.
- Three-bin compost and potting table.
- Entry therapeutic garden planted with medicinal and edible plants typically found in the forest.
- Perimeter pollinator meadow and planted with a fruit and nut orchard.
- Seed and plant library for sharing plants, clippings and seeds.
- Seating for gathering, socializing and resting!
“We’re very proud of this garden project which has delivered on so many levels from career preparedness and new job opportunities to providing a space for the community to enjoy,” said Jeremy Dyson, Program Manager at GROWcery Food Network Society. “We’ve already been able to see classes from the local school come through on walks and some residents from the Mazarine Lodge enjoying their bountiful harvests.”
The community is invited to explore the new Ryall Park Community Garden by registering to attend the opening event on Monday, July 19, 2021. Three family friendly sessions are available for pre-registration at 9:30 am, 10:30 am and 11:30 am. Please call the Queensborough Community Centre at 604-525-7388 to register.