Tomatoes, green beans, potatoes and jalapeños are growing from inside Metlakatla’s new community greenhouse.
Half of the $93,200 project was funded through the Port of Prince Rupert’s Community Investment Fund and the other half by the Metlakatla Governing Council.
“We are all pretty new at this so we all Googled to see what was easiest to start with and beans obviously grew like weeds,” said Gary Doolan, who has been one of the four public works employees with the band working on the project.
On Sept. 13, Metlakatla invited elders, members, port employees and the media to celebrate the official opening of the project that was two years in the making.
The recreation, health and public works departments wanted to make sure the design was the right fit for the community. They settled on using a similar greenhouse design as the one in Kitkatla.
“The goal is to have community members plant what they want to plant and harvest what they want to harvest, and really benefit everyone not just those that plant, but also the elders and the youth,” said Shaun Thomas, communications manager for Metlakatla.
The long term goal is to have fresh vegetables and greens for the Meals on Wheels program for members with disabilities who have trouble preparing their own food. The community also plans to start a gardening club. Doolan and his crew learned through Google, but next season they’re planning to bring in a professional to show them the ins and outs of gardening.
The greenhouse has a double layer wall for more insulation, and inside there are hanging baskets carrying cherry tomatoes and cedar boxes filled with soil and growing a variety vegetables. The jalapeños were planted because the rookie gardeners thought it was “cool” — and two of the chili peppers are already taking shape.
Maynard Angus, the Aboriginal affairs manager for the Port of Prince Rupert, was there to cut the ribbon with Metlakatla Band councillor Robert Nelson and elder Betty Comeau. “We’re fortunate to be surrounded by a pristine environment that provides an abundance of natural, renewable food sources,” Angus said in the press release. “However, our geography limits the ability to source fresh, affordable produce, and we’re pleased to assist the people of Metlakatla Nation with this community investment to continue improving their collective quality of life.”