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Community gardens could yield a harvest of benefits

BACI looks to transform sites and cultivate inclusion
Friday March 25, 2011 — Lisa Bailey

By transforming some of its green space into food-producing community gardens, the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) is aiming to cultivate inclusion for the people it supports as well as a host of other benefits.

Executive director Tanya Sather says the idea, part of the Can You Dig It! initiative involving a number of community partners, is innovative and generating lots of excitement because of the possibilities.

“It’s community development and it’s (finding) a different way to use our property to meet community needs and also build relationships and bring people together,” she says.

At two BACI sites — a big backyard at one of its homes and an area at its head office at the Still Creek Centre — raised gardens will be created for growing vegetables by community members and people who have disabilities.

Tanya notes that community gardens are becoming increasing popular in Burnaby and Vancouver, as people optimize use of green space.

Gardens are even popping up on apartment decks, she says.

The BACI community gardens would be a great fit and asset in the neighbourhoods where they’re located, Tanya says.

One area faces social and economic challenges so a garden would be an enhancement.

The other neighbourhood is characterized by higher-density residential units such as condominiums and apartments.

“Those people wouldn’t have access to a lot of green space so we’d like to build relationships and offer them that green space to use,” Tanya says.

Community gardens also offer other benefits to participants such as the security of knowing where the food comes from, as well as cost and environmental advantages of not having to travel to get the food.

People who have a disability would be accessing healthy and fresh food as well as building community relationships and friendships as they welcome neighbours to the site of their home, Tanya says.

And, she says, “it shows we have assets to offer the community,” which is a key component to the association’s resiliency and promoting inclusion.

An information meeting for the community at large will be held April 7 from 6-8 p.m. at BACI’s head office, 2702 Norland Ave., Burnaby, to gauge interest in the garden initiative.

Tanya says they will see “how many people are interested and how they can get involved and what skills and assets they can bring, and then we’ll go from there.”

If you have a story to share or feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 25, or e-mail lisa(at)axiomnews.ca.

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  1. BACI Community Garden Program | Jake Keithley - September 4, 2011

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