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Garden thrives due to volunteers, Powell River Community Forest

Seniors create plan for abandoned Sycamore Commons plot in Townsite

Sycamore Commons, located on the grounds of St. David and St. Paul Anglican Church in Townsite, began in the fall of 2011.

With the guidance of permaculturists Erin Innes and Ron Berezan, along with their eager students, once bramble bushes, tired lawn and less than ideal soil was turned into a thriving ecosystem full of food, biodiversity and a beautiful space for neighbourhood residents to enjoy.

Students, parishioners and many community member volunteers worked for several years developing and maintaining the space, however, the project was left to the wayside as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Fast forward to 2023/2024 and seven volunteers, who happily call themselves seniors, have planned a revival.

Rosemary Bjorknas, Kathy Sliziak, Coralie Gough, Doreen Bennington, Stuart Isto, Hannah Main and Elaine Sissons indicated that 12 years ago, the plot was a gravel and blackberry lot.

“The volunteers [in the past] of Sycamore Commons used permaculture methods and turned this lot into rich soil, and vegetables for community use were successfully grown there,” the group’s spokesperson said. 

Like many community projects, the work was interrupted by COVID-19 and did not restart when restrictions were lifted, thus the garden project was abandoned and weeds proliferated.

Last October, the new group of volunteers convened and decided to, “cover the whole fenced lot with tarps. On Saturday, April 6, the tarps were lifted, debris removed and pathways and plots laid out.”

This time around, the group of seven, all of them experienced gardeners, hope to raise vegetables to donate to qathet region community organizations.

The group said the plan is to grow potatoes, tomatoes, various kinds of beans and greens, leeks, green onions and parsley to be distributed to food banks and senior centres as needed. However, the gardeners, who also have their own home plots to tend to, emphasized that, "the project is designed to be a simple, sustainable project, nothing fancy, not a show garden, just for the production of basic organic food."

The one year trial project has the support of the church and has been allocated $20,625 for Sycamore Commons garden restoration through Powell River Community Forest grants in the fall 2023 issue.

The new volunteers give credit to those volunteers who made that beautiful soil years ago.

“Without their work this new endeavour would not be possible.”

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