While summer has officially turned to Fall and the greenhouse temperatures don’t get nearly as high at night, we are cleaning up the beds, seeding them with winter cover crops (buckwheat, winter pea, vetch and fall rye), seeding winter veggies (spinach, radish, turnip, tatsoi, scallions) and keeping our tender crop of new kale going.
We’ve also wrapped up a couple intensive of months of canning in the kitchen. It’s nice to get back out of the hot kitchen and get our pitchforks in the soil and soak up some of the rain that has finally fallen. With school finally back in, we are seeing familiar faces around the park again. Some of our high school friends are back hanging out behind the greenhouse and pool building doing the kinds of things we don’t want to see in our park. It is our goal to get these youth pulling weeds this year, not smoking them!
As October is the month to celebrate World Food Day with a focus on family farms, it has us thinking about what makes our family farm at the park. In so many ways, our little market garden and greenhouse at the park have allowed us to cultivate our own family farm of sorts — our regular crew of CGC volunteers, youth interns, YO teamers and staff. While we may not be single-handedly making a dent in decreasing food bank usage, always a goal of CGC, the urban farm has allowed us to be caretakers of what is becoming an increasingly inclusive space where fresh, sustainably-grown veggies and fruit are the common denominator; where we can cultivate a non-intimidating gathering space where community members who face a variety of barriers (i.e. un or under-employment, marginalization due to a disability, mental health or substance abuse issues etc.), can come and gain employability skills, life skills, community connections and a sense of purpose or belonging.
A recent work experience participant told us after working at the farm and canning in our kitchen for a month, we had given her the confidence she needed to get back on her feet after years away from the workforce. She also took away a plethora of food growing and preservation knowledge she hadn’t had access to before.
Planning for the Family Drop-In schedule is now well underway after the boom of harvest at KinPark and processing of our bounty of vegetables is soon coming to a close. We have finally solidified a schedule and are working on getting our press release, posters and promotions out before the last week of September. The opening date keeps being pushed back, but we’ve set the date as October 14 and think this will give us enough time to get ready!
In Katie’s last few days at CGC, she did some amazing research of other drop-in centres around the Cowichan Valley that we hope to connect with. It is one of our goals to develop a resource package of all the programs around the valley and what they offer. It will be incredibly helpful for us to see what has and hasn’t worked for other programs so we can learn from other’s mistakes. Of course, so much of this is trial and error and will evolve with time and the various skills and ideas of users of the program. We strive to fill in the gaps of other drop-in programs, as well as work alongside to offer a wider variety of activities and experiences for our participants. Our schedule and programming tries to attract a wide range of demographics including homeschoolers, young children, youth, elders, and dads. We will have a variety of activities, from gardening to crafts and music.
We are happy to have two interns from VIU’s Child and Youth Care Program working with us this year. Graham is in his second year and is eager and enthusiastic in helping to develop programming. Alyssa, a CGC veteran in her fourth and final year, is such an asset for our team. Finally, CGC has hired one new staff member, Christine Carter, who started with us the last week of September! Christine brings many talents such as graphic design and conflict mediation that we are thrilled to be able to take advantage of. It’s so great to have her enthusiasm and willingness to jump right into the CGC family.
We’ve had a hiccup in getting an old double-wide school portable for the centre. We will find out at the end of October if we will be able to get this building. Fingers crossed, because this space would be perfect for the wide range of activities we envision for the project! In the time being, we will be using the KinPark pool building for the Family Drop-In Centre. The past two weeks we have been cleaning up the building to get it ready to serve our families. We will be looking for donations and furniture to help make our space more cozy and warm for the winter months. Please keep tuned for our press release and schedule!
Our interns, Youth Outreach team had staff have been busy! Choose from a variety of salsas, pickles, relishes, jellies and jams all made with KinPark produce. We also have a variety of dehydrated herbs, cured garlic and kuri squashes. All items are now available in our Garden Pantry Thrift Shop. All proceeds go to support our youth interns as well as farm and programming supplies for the drop-in centre.
– spoiled hay or straw for mulch – topsoil – maple leaves
We are currently accepting donations of clean (ie. containing no morning glory) leaves, maple preferably, on the farm. Please drop them off to the park at the end of Ypres St. Leaves should be bagged and placed on the park side of the black fence. Thank you in advance! We will put them to good use.”