Jules inspects the sproingy lettuce leaves growing in Groundswell’s community greenhouse. Photo by Lorene Keitch

Growing from the ground up at Groundswell

An update from the community greenhouse

By Katrina Kellner

Director of Partnerships and Development, Groundswell Network Society

Having recently undergone a series of internal changes since our strategic transition this past fall, Groundswell Network Society is excited for an abundant year ahead. Our work is focused in the inter-relation of food, water, energy and waste within the context of community sustainability and resilience. Groundswell is a living demonstration of solutions that support climate action. We empower people to achieve their sustainability goals through innovation, education, and community collaboration.

Groundswell Community Greenhouse and Permaculture Gardens are bursting with life, and as Groundswell’s new Director of Partnerships and Development, I am excited to support meaningful community engagement at our campus, with the help of a growing membership and volunteer base. We have simplified our areas of outreach in 2018 to support thoughtful observation for long term success.

Those areas of outreach include use of the community greenhouse and gardens to support community inclusion, through weekly U-pick, visiting hours and Harvest-to-Market volunteer work bees. Our workshops in 2018 have begun and will continue to demonstrate compost and soil building as well as gardening and food preservation techniques, all of which will directly support Groundswell operations. Ongoing collaboration with DTSS Cook-Training is already underway and offers fresh local produce to the highschool cafeteria and hands on Farm-to-Fork training for our burgeoning culinary professionals. The development of educational programming aligned with new curriculum is underway, with help from local educators and support from the Columbia Valley Environmental Education Network. Expanding educational program offerings to students in Rocky Mountain School District 6 is high priority for Groundswell, but entirely dependent on adequate funding not currently in place. Funding is needed to support costs to run our facility, hire educational professionals and pay fair wages to permanent staff in order for Groundswell to offer unique and imperative Place-Based-Learning opportunities.

We have a few dedicated volunteers and contract staff that have been integral to developments in 2018. Spring cleaning, repairs, maintenance, seeding, planting, watering, weeding and harvesting have all been supported by people committed to Groundswell’s success. We have offered multiple workshops this year, with the support of Kalista Pruden of Avalily Permaculture and the Earthskills Institute. The Trades Sampler program at the College of the Rockies built us a 3-bin compost system. Winderberry Nurseries have donated seeds, soil amendments and fundraising efforts. Upwards of 50 volunteer hours weekly, since March 2018, has moved our operation forward. And there is no shortage of work ahead. Volunteer support to assist with fundraising efforts, outreach events, site maintenance, housekeeping and plant care are required, as we are currently operating with two temporarily contracted staff and multiple grant applications pending approval or in preparation to be written.

To support our community in accessing Groundswell’s harvest we are open Tuesday mornings (9 a.m. to noon), Wednesday afternoons (1 to 6 p.m.) and Thursday (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), for U-pick and visiting hours. Available produce includes swiss chard, kale, rhubarb and a variety of herbs including mint, oregano, basil, dill, summer savory, rosemary and thyme. As our gardens begin to fruit, haskap berries, raspberries, plums, apricots and a variety of cherries will be available to purchase by U-pick.

Other ways to support our work include purchasing a membership, donating or volunteering with our weekly Harvest-to-Market work-bees (every Thursday starting at 11 a.m.), or purchasing our chemical free, local, fresh produce at Valley Foods and Circle Health Foods every Friday, while supplies last. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Jessica Pemberton, Greenhouse Team Leader at communitygreenhouseteamleader@gmail.com.

We are also on the lookout for two additional board members to join our growing team of sustainability keeners. Skill sets in accounting, business and non-profits are an asset. If you are interested in finding out more about Groundswell or getting involved, please stop in to the Groundswell Community Greenhouse, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. For more information about the work of the organization please visit www.groundswellnetwork.ca, find us on Facebook or phone 250-342-3337.

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