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Prince Rupert anti-poverty group looking to expand community garden

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The Kaien Anti Poverty Society was back at City Hall Monday evening asking for the full amount of land they requested three years ago so they can expand their community garden.

Originally the group was given a small parcel of land by the City at Kootenay Avenue and Ritchie Street  for a pilot project.

In 2010 volunteers installed 11 raised garden boxes and a chain-linked fence around a total area of 40 x 40 feet.

“We need four times that amount of land,” KAPS director Sunflower Porter told council.

The group wants to add more garden boxes and develop a greenhouse in the area adjacent to grow tomatoes, cucumbers and celery.

In the future they would also like to develop a recreation area for seniors and youth, adjacent to the garden and acquire a piece of land on the east side of town to develop a community garden there as well.

This year KAPS has been turning people away because the garden has reached full capacity.

Besides individual gardeners, there is a daycare, a self-advocacy group and children from the KAPS programs in charge of some of the boxes.

When Councillor Nelson Kinney asked if there’s been any vandalism to the garden, he heard “no” and that even children and youths in the neighbourhood are protecting it.

“Children in our programs have been growing plants from seed and then transplanting them into the boxes. They also have a mini garden on the go behind our KAPS spot in the B.C. Housing,” said KAPS manager Colleen Hermanson.

When asked by Councillor Gina Garon if anyone can apply to have garden plot, Porter said it is open to anyone and not tied to income level.

“It is a community garden and is therefore open to all people. We would like to have an integration of the community, not just poverty, it’s for everyone,” Porter said.

There is a $40 fee to cover the costs of maintenance of the plots and a key for the locked gate, but if someone is unable to pay the fee, it can be waived said Hermanson.

Porter said the society is hoping to pursue federal and provincial funding and grants and had chosen to present to council because the time is ripe for programs that promote sustainability and green areas.

“I think it’s important to develop this for the community and I would like it if you shared our vision,” said Porter.

Rather than work piece by piece, if the City agreed to giving the group more land all at once, then it would be easier to develop a long-term plan, she added.

Councillor Kathy Bedard asked if KAPS has considered going the co-operative route to open itself up to more funding.

“We are a small group of core people, but certainly that isn’t off our plate for consideration and yes that has been talked about,” answered Hermanson.

Several members of council asked KAPS to provide a site plan for further consideration of the request.

“Give us a reason to consider and say yes,” said Bedard.

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