This group of Nelson students is helping tend the food cupboard’s new garden.

Nelson Food Cupboard’s garden builds skills, shatters myths

This gardening project aims to engage teenage boys.

There was a strange noise coming from the Nelson Food Cupboard’s new garden in Uphill these last two weeks. It was the sound of myths shattering.

The food garden will produce vegetables for food cupboard customers but the project is also about building skills and capacity. Supported employees through Kootenay Career Development Society, volunteers from the food cupboard’s customers, and Trafalgar students are all contributing and learning to grow a garden.

A group of male L.V. Rogers students is also helping and shattering a few myths in the process.

Compared to their female peers, fewer males are completing high school, earning scholarships, going on to post-secondary education and engaging with their school and broader communities. As a result, LVR and School District 8 have identified support for male students as a priority goal.

To Grade 11 LVR students Micah May and Tibo Kölmel, this is a challenge that demands a response. They asked Grade 9 guys to join them in some myth busting, starting with giving up some free time to help build the food garden.

Nine younger guys stepped up: Ezra Foy, Josh Schacher, Jahmal Truth, Hayden Jordahl, Lukas Hanning-Brown, Dylan Luscombe, Eli Lutz, Brock Dixon and Luka Eyre.

“Guys will get involved, but it needs to be the right project,” explained May. “Many of us like to challenge ourselves both physically and mentally, be outside, do hands-on projects that create benefits that you can really see, and learn while doing.”

The food garden project is a perfect fit.

“On the first afternoon they accomplished much more than I had anticipated,” said project coordinator Kim Charlesworth. “They have fun, but are focused so I have to always be ready with the next tasks!”

Thanks to a generous donation from Smiling Otter Wilderness Adventures, the guys will further challenge themselves by completing a four-day canoe trip down the length of Slocan Lake. A McCreary Society grant is the basis for their food budget, which they will compare to the average budgets of clients who will use the food garden. They will then shop for their groceries with Phil Jackson who does the weekly shopping for the Nelson Food Cupboard.

“Many of us have never been responsible for meal planning and shopping so we don’t understand the difficulties some families face,” said Kölmel.

As they paddle down the lake, they will reflect on the volunteer experience and their futures. “We want to encourage them to set big goals that will benefit not only themselves but as many people around them as possible,” explained May.

The crackling that will be heard as they sit around the campfire will be the shattering of a few more myths.