On the North Vancouver Island St. Columbia church property, I started a garden in April 2020 in order to provide herbs, food, flowers and complimentary seeds for church members and community. A hedgerow was started and two untreated cedar planter boxes were installed. Annual flowers, chives, parsley, thyme, sage, oregano were planted into the planter boxes and newly constructed beds. I marked out the area for hedgerow garden beds and started mulching with cardboard, wood chips, wood dust and Sea Soil – on top of the grass, in order to feed the soil in that area. In the hedgerow, I planted herbs, veggies, sunflowers, assorted annuals and a donated purple columbine, a bee-friendly water dish and birdbath were soon added. The area outside the church kitchen window was beautified for a well-being experience to all wishing to enjoy quiet space in the church garden during COVID restrictions and into the future.

In an additional acquired community garden bed, I planted food, flowers, herbs and seed crops to distribute next year. I designed a growing space by drawing a scaled plan of the area, considering soil condition, drainage, wind, the direction of the sun, movement of sun and shade, views, areas requiring screening, windbreaks and noise. In deciding what to grow, I used a planting calendar for this zone, considered biodiversity, companion planting and winter cover crop choices. Included were bird- and bee-friendly baths plus rocks for snake habitat. At optimum times I direct-seeded and exercised succession planting to ensure a steady flow of rotating crops.

The maintenance plan addressed irrigation, cutting grass, border edging, weeding, mulching and integrated plant health management.

Complimentary local saved seeds, flowers and food are grown for the community were distributed each week. I had someone who asked to learn to volunteer with me on a weekly basis. The first food box appeared on May 13, 2020. Produce and flowers will continue to be distributed after the end of the project date – August 15, 2020. Through church and community networks I found recipients of bouquets and food every week during the program.

Future considerations: Continue expanding the gardens with intentional design plus a supportive web of relationships following permacultureprinciples.com. Increase soil organic matter each year to address climate change, following https://www.4p1000.org/. Live within limits of what we are able to source locally. Continue to preserve and buy locally, especially at farm markets, in order to have a diverse array of food for lean times. An opening of the garden with a healing ceremony.
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