After two years under construction, garden plots at the Agassiz Harrison Legion are finally ready to grow.
“Seniors, they’re all confined to their condos, their townhouses, whatever,” Ed Arndt, first vice-president of the Legion, said. “They don’t have the gardens they used to have before they retired and moved into smaller spaces.
“So we’re hoping there will be that interaction between seniors in a park-like atmosphere. A garden atmosphere.”
The garden, named the Green Thumb Project, has been slowly developing behind the Legion building on Highway 9 since the Legion and Agassiz Harrison Community Services applied for a New Horizon’s for Seniors grant in 2017.
Thanks to that approximately $24,000 grant, the 10,000-foot space behind the Legion was converted from lawn to a seniors-based community garden, complete with waist-high raised beds, gravel walkways, a locked gate and a wheelchair accessible pathway leading from an expanded parking lot to the garden.
For now, the only plant in the garden is an old cherry tree dropping its pink petals on the garden paths. But that will change starting May 1, when senior gardeners will get the keys to the garden and begin planting their own fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Any seniors interested in participating in the Green Thumb Project should call the Agassiz Harrison Legion (604-796-2332) to put their name on the list. Seniors can request either a two-foot high bed or a three-foot high bed, although gardeners with disabilities will be given preference for the three-foot high beds.
Plots cost $15 a year, which covers a key to the garden, as well as half a raised bed and things like fertilizer.
Although planting will begin May 1, Arndt said projects at the garden will continue through the summer and possibly beyond.
“We’re hoping people will come by and donate a bench, so we can create a park-like atmosphere,” he said. “If we can get the benches installed, that will be a really unique situation, because everyone can sit around and talk.”
The Legion has also applied for a Gardens in Bloom grant to help build a shed, as well as purchased tools and blueberry bushes for the garden.
But perhaps more important than the benches and shed are the programs that can emerge from the garden once things begin to grow.
With the Legion’s connections to the teenagers at ACE, it’s possible that seniors will be able to work with the local youth. And with the garden’s partnership with community services, Arndt said, it’s possible they could offer cooking classes to people who are using the produce donated to food bank.
“There’s a lot of possibilities and programs that can stem off this garden,” he said. “Hopefully that’s what’s going to happen.”