Vegetables with fresh dirt still clinging to their roots were picked outside City Hall on Tuesday and loaded into boxes that will help feed the city’s hungry.
About 15 volunteers at the City’s first harvesting party picked the lush food garden clean, gathering about 200 kilograms of green, shiny Swiss chard, beets, thyme, chives and three kinds of kale that are destined for the Food Bank and Interior Community Services.
A group of around 30 gathered for the event, including Mayor Peter Milobar, City councillors, the gardeners who planted the garden, friends of the Farmers Market, master gardeners and members of the food bank and ICS.
“Hopefully you’ll be able to use this,” said Milobar to the recipients. “Probably you will be able to, with the unfortunate demand.”
Community kitchens, run through Interior Community Services, will can some beets and make soup from the chard, said Kelly Kelland, CEO of the organization.
The kitchens provide a way for people to learn more about cooking, baking, canning or freezing nutritious foods, and to take some home.
“(ICS) has first dibs, they can take whatever they want,” said Bernadette Siracky, executive director of the food bank.
Interior Community Services doesn’t have the storage capacity or facilities the food bank does.
The public produce movement began in Kamloops with the work of the Kamloops Food Policy Council, a group that networks local food security projects, organizations, advocates and educators.
The food policy council brought Darrin Nordahl, an American city planner and author of Public Produce: A New Urban Agriculture, to Kamloops in May 2001, and his talk kickstarted the downtown public produce garden, which has now been running for two years.
“That just started the whole thing,” said Kamloops master gardener Elaine Sedgman.
Sedgman said she feels the success of the downtown garden made the City confident enough to plant its own edible garden.
The Edible Demonstration Garden was designed and planted by the City’s horticulture staff, and was intended as a pilot project showcasing how edible landscaping enhances public spaces by both beautifying and contributing to a more food secure community.