The Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden (SCBG) is in West Sechelt on BC’s Sunshine Coast. Our garden is 16 hectares of mostly flat land. The property was logged in the early part of the 20th century, later became a working food farm, and latterly was used as a tree farm for Murray’s Nurseries. Our non-profit society purchased the land in 2009 and began the job of clearing invasive species that had overrun the property.
One of the first tasks volunteers took on was the rejuvenation of a large vegetable garden. From the start, our veggie team (as they are lovingly referred to as) were firm in their belief that the food garden should serve as a demonstration area for sound gardening practices. Visitors were encouraged to ask our volunteers questions about our methods, successes, and failures — or better yet — join the volunteers and learn firsthand.
We approached West Coast Seeds and asked if they would be willing to donate a few packages of seeds to help us get going (and growing!). We were delighted a few months later to receive a large box filled with interesting seeds. West Coast Seeds have continued to offer this support to us every year since we began.
One of the first decisions this group made was to donate all the produce to our local Food Bank. In our community, the Food Bank had 1,400 clients last year. Many of their clients are either homeless or at risk of becoming so. The Sunshine Coast is, like many areas, experiencing a severe shortage of affordable housing. The Food Bank is very grateful to receive fresh organic produce from us weekly throughout the growing season. Over the years, we have proudly donated thousands of kilograms of produce.
Our food garden is a place for volunteers to enjoy camaraderie and foster life-long friendships. It provides learning opportunities for volunteers and visitors alike. And it is a way for us to give back to the community that has embraced the Botanical Garden.