Tumbler Ridge Community Garden gets Northern Health IMAGINE grant for new SPROUTS program

Trent Ernst, Editor

The Tumbler Ridge Community Garden and Composting Society will be funding a SPROUTS program, thanks to an IMAGINE grant from Northern Health.

The society was one of 19 groups awarded a total of $75,183 in northeast BC. The Community Garden’s portion of that was $1015, mostly for rental of five beds, tools and other incidental expenses for the program, which will see students from the elementary school responsible for planting, growing and harvesting vegetables.

“We’re giving them the space and mentoring them, but they’re responsible for the work,” says Crys White of the Garden Society. “We’re quite excited about it.”

There are five teachers at the Elementary School who will be bringing their classes to the garden. “It’s a three year project, so it will carry on next year and the year after, so the same kids are working on it year after year,” says White.

In addition to the beds, where the kids will be planting a variety of plants, the Community Garden will also be providing the kids five rows of potatoes.

Part of the reason for the ongoing nature of the program is the way that the school year works. A class might come in and plant in the spring, and look after the beds for a few months, but come summer, school is over and the program generally ends.

Not so with this program, says White. As part of the program, the kids will be looking after the garden beds over summer with their families, and then, in fall, will be harvesting the vegetables. “The hope is to have something they can actually eat,” says White.

The IMAGINE Grants are provided by Northern Health to community groups working on projects that promote staying healthy and well.

The community groups, schools, and organizations that have been awarded grants will be initiating grassroots projects to improve the health of those living, working, learning, and playing in northeast B.C.

“Healthy, vibrant communities are what make British Columbia great,” said Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier,” These IMAGINE grants will support people in the region to improve wellness through such activities as the Peace Country seniors exercise program and Pouce Coupe bike trails.”

In addition to the grant coming to TR, there were 18 other groups awarded grants. These are as diverse as money for a drumming circle in Chetwynd, put on by the Chetwynd Social Planning Society, to the Fort Nelson First Nation working on creating HIV Awareness in their community to Cross Country Ski Equipment for Lessons put on by the Whisky Jack Nordic Ski Club in Fort St. John.

“The IMAGINE Community Grants are a unique approach to supporting health promotion efforts in northern B.C. communities,” says Dr. Sandra Allison, Northern Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer. “We know that health happens in communities and it is inspiring to see the impact of community-driven, locally-designed health projects like those supported by this recent round of grants. Each IMAGINE Community Grant recipient is a partner in our shared goal of improving the health of northern people, families, and communities.”

White says this is one of three grants she’s hoping for. “I’ve applied to the Community Forest for a grant for soil and to Scott’s Miracle Gro for fertilizer. It costs about $600 for a load of soil, so that can be prohibitive.”

In addition to this new partnership with the school, the Community Garden Society has been partnering with the museum next door. “They have two beds for insect friendly plants, so that’s really good, too. “

There are two opportunities to obtain funding for community projects in 2016, with another cycle in early fall. More information on IMAGINE Grants can be found on Northern Health’s IMAGINE Grants website.