A community garden that plants seeds of learning and warmth 

The Lil'wat Community Garden Project expands thanks to community fund

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Budding gardeners Ts'zil Learning Centre students working in the garden.
  • Photo submitted
  • Budding gardeners Ts'zil Learning Centre students working in the garden.

With thick snow now blanketing Mount Currie, the Lil'wat Nation reserve near Pemberton, the Lil'wat Community Garden Project is in resting mode after a busy year of, literally, growth.

"All is quiet at the moment and we'll be starting again in the spring," said Lisa Fisher of the Ts'zil Learning Centre.

"The garden is resting for sure, but the students of Ts'zil will be planting seeds at the end of the winter. Things are coming in most of the summer and well into the fall, everything starting with strawberries quite early and then to kale and cabbage in the late fall, until it snows."

Shawn Wallace, the Healthy Lifestyles Manager at the Mount Currie band, began the garden and saw it as an opportunity to work as a community to focus on healthy living. The Lil'wat Community Garden Project was the opportunity to learn about food security, land stewardship and conservation of native plants.

Fisher said the garden is half an acre of traditional plants and herbs with a traditional medicine wheel at the centre mapped out with rocks. The rest of the garden is in raised boxes that fan out from the centre. The plants and herbs in the centre correlate with each of the quadrants of the medicine wheel.

"Each quadrant is represented by different colours that are correlated by the seasons: red, black, yellow and white. What was planted, whether herbs or vegetables, is meant to correlate with each quadrant and in each season in which they can be found growing," Fisher said.

Beans, corn and squash have also been planted. They are vegetables with complimentary relationships that traditionally the Lil'wat would grow together, in what is known today as companion planting.

"The Lil'wat people were doing that a long time, a long time before the term was coined," Fisher said.

"Those three vegetables were used by Lil'wat ancestors because they grew well in the area and they also grow well together. The beans, for example, can grow up the corn stalks. They three together do a good job at repelling insects, and they replenish the soil in a symbiotic relationship."

The garden project was given a grant for $5,000 as part of SHARE Whistler's Environmental Legacy Fund.

Along with caring for the existing garden, students and community members also built a greenhouse and fence, prepared garden beds, planted seeds, created garden access for elders and those in wheelchairs, weeded, and harvested vegetables.

Workshops focused on composting, planting, language workshops, canning, seed gathering, and other topics. Community kitchen meals were held for garden volunteers and community members.

Roughly 100 people from the community of 3,000 have become involved. Fisher said they hope to involve more people in the gardening in 2013.

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