A garden shed is under construction by volunteer Norm Bobic and friends at the Living Garden in Balfour this summer. A healthy crop of potatoes flourish in the foreground while volunteers tend to the new planting beds.

Balfour’s Living Garden helps fill growing need

What is a gift garden? Find out as Living Garden hosts its open house on August 31.

It’s the first year of harvest for the Living Garden in Balfour. Located at the Balfour Covenant churchyard, this year’s growth is apparent after successful grant applications in 2012 provided funds for startup costs.

The intent is to provide fruit and vegetables to those in need.

“We started this because of all the need for good healthy food for folks,” said Living Garden director Rick Dickieson.

“We have a lot of friends donating their time to Our Daily Bread, the Salvation Army and other places and they have said how much of a need there is for good food.”

Twenty volunteers have made this vision into a reality thus far. With permission to use the land at the church, soil was a huge issue as the earth was rock and sand. Another order of duty was to run a waterline and power 100 feet (33 m) to the garden which is surrounded by deer fencing. Then there was the planting.

While Dickieson said he volunteers more in the administrative realm, his daughter in-law Nicole Dickieson is the grower. Fruit trees and berry bushes have been planted and most of the vegetables have been grown by seed.

Living Garden has donated vegetables to the Nelson Food Cupboard, Our Daily Bread and Salvation Army, plus there has been one request from a family in Balfour. Dickieson said they don’t know which families are in need, unless they identify themselves.

“I want to commend Rick Dickieson and the church for its forward thinking in operating a living garden,” said Our Daily Bread Pastor Jim Reimer. “The growing and processing of food is a fast disappearing skill. Mentoring and training people to experience the rewarding work of growing one’s own food is to be highly applauded. And they have taken it one step further in growing food for others, which brings their work to whole new level.

“Our food budget is our largest expense next to the administrative cost of running the program. High quality produce that is naturally grown is essential to us meeting our goals of preparing well balanced and highly nutritious meals. [Living Garden’s] produce donated to us meets those requirements hands down. For us to buy top grade, naturally grown food is financially prohibitive, but to have it donated to us allows us to meet our goals of having nutritious meals and still remain within a manageable budget.”

The Living Garden is a non-profit organization situated at 7741 Upper Balfour Road. With the assistance of Columbia Basin Trust and RDCK grant, individual donations, many discounts, gifts and deals from local suppliers, as well as countless hours of volunteer time, the garden is now growing. Inception and planning for the garden started in 2012 after a conversation between Dickieson and a few friends.

To showcase their working project, the Living Garden is hosting an open house on August 31 from 3 to 5 p.m. The group would like to share and showcase their project, explain the concept of a gift garden to the community and thank the many friends of the Living Garden who have supported and made it possible.

The event is also to raise awareness for people who would like to participate as a volunteer or who need assistance. Asking for help may be a challenge for some, but that is exactly why the Living Garden was started: to provide sustenance to those in need.

Living Garden continues to welcome volunteers as there is always a need to weed and harvest. If you would like to get involved or would like more information, please call Rick Dickieson at 250-229-4412 or email jrdickieson@shaw.ca.

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