EcoGarden summer expansion on track for Fernie
By Erin Knutson
The Community EcoGarden in Fernie will continue with expansion plans this summer after receiving confirmation of grants from the Columbia Basin Trust (Trust) and Canada Healthy Community Initiatives (CHCI).
“We’re looking forward and excited to be moving ahead with the project this summer – thank you for all of your support and to all the community volunteers that made this possible,” said Wildsight Elk Valley Branch Community Program Coordinator Dawn Deydey.
Deydey presented at Fernie’s Monday(May 25) council meeting, confirming a combined total of $122,000 from both organizations to expand the EcoGarden.
“The (Trust) through the Food Access and Recovery Grants has supported this project up to $34,000, and we were successful with $88,000 in funding from CHCI,” she said.
The funds will ensure the group can actualize plans to expand the 22-bed garden, extend the fenced space, create additional plots, production beds, construct a covered learning space, and build a small tool shed complete with the purchase of tools.
“We’re lucky to have such an incredible site in a great area of the community – we are looking at continued expansion and continued food production, and with the low-income housing neighbours coming our way, we’re looking to develop,” said Deydey.
With the city’s support and the Isabella Dicken Elementary School and Fernie Secondary School recommendations, the EcoGarden will reach the scope intended for it when the project was approved in 2003.
“Back in 2003, we chose to develop a small area that expanded in 2009; we are now ready to extend into the whole area that the EcoGarden was initially designated,” said Deydey.
Contributions from volunteers and donations have helped the project grow over its 18-year history. Among its successes, the EcoGarden plots have doubled, the city installed a waterline, and the Angel Garden was constructed in 2015.
A program expansion feasibility study was completed in 2018, allowing for the 2021 expansion of the garden that will take place this summer.
“Congratulations on chasing that grant – well done – we’ve spent a lot of time out there as a family, so thank you,” said Mayor Ange Qualizza.
Fernie EcoGarden file photo