The idea for this project grew from a community and personal vision to beautify an area of the Northshore as well as to bring native plants back to urban areas of Kamloops. The area I choose is adjacent to the Butler Urban Farm where I had been spending the summer volunteering. Managed by the Kamloops Food Policy Council and founded by JUMP Kamloops, this farm is dedicated to growing food for individuals and organizations in the community to access freely. It also provides learning opportunities and a space for community connections for anyone wanting to become involved. Some of the space around the farm appeared dusty and barren, and often overtaken by weeds. In a past summer job I had been educated on the vital role that native plants and pollinators play in our ecosystems. We learned how traditional grass lawns, invasive species, and loss of green space of urban areas is detrimental to the environment and our urban ecosystem, and how it is vital to re-naturalize urban spaces. I wanted to beautify the area around the farm, but with plants that were suited to Kamloops’ hot, dry environment and would require little water or labor to upkeep. More importantly, these plants would support the native pollinators in the area, which would not only protect these species but also enhance the farm. With the advice and help of the Kamloops Naturalist Club, I was able to pick plants that would work well in the area. The club also assisted me in layout and planting to ensure the arrangement looked natural and attractive, and I gained a chance to learn while we worked alongside one another. The farm managers were excited and supportive of the project, and with the help of volunteers prepped the area for planting. This included painstakingly removing weeds from the area, so their contribution was highly appreciated and invaluable to this project. I procured some seedlings from the Naturalist Club, but most came from Splitrock Environmental in nearby Lillooet. Splitrock is a business owned by the St’at’imc, which specializes in “ecological stewardship, environmental monitoring, native plant propagation and ethnobotany” (taken from their website). It was a highlight of the project for me to visit their site in such a beautiful area of BC, and to support a business which is doing important work. While the plants will take some time to establish, I am excited to return to the site in the spring and see how they look. Through the planting of this site I hope that I not only made the area more attractive for neighbors and pollinators, but I also hope we have started a conversation around protecting natural ecosystems in and around Kamloops. This native plant garden is the second at the Butler Urban Farm site, and with any luck we will see many more pop up around the city.
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