›› JJ Ford

I’m writing this article on the first day of spring, and the signs that our little patch of earth is tilting towards the sun are all around us. As the magnolias and oso berry bloom, and the robins hop around looking for worms, here at Fernwood NRG we are starting to plan our garden programming for the year. Like many of you, we’re sowing seeds now with the intention to harvest abundance as the days lengthen and warm. We hope you’ll join in on some of our amazing programming this growing season! We’ve got lots of resources and community days in the works for you.

As in previous years, we’re excited to serve as a neighbourhood distribution point for the City’s Get Growing, ­Victoria! programming. Get Growing, Victoria! began in 2020 as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and has grown into an amazing resource for gardeners across Victoria. Growing your own food can be an engaging and rewarding way to bolster your household food security, although of course it’s just one piece in the larger puzzle of a food secure community and region.

First up, we want to help you build healthy soil! On April 21 & 22 we’ll be distributing free leaf mulch and compost from the City of Victoria. The City’s materials are tested annually, and are safe to use on food gardens. Then, on May 26 we’ll be distributing free vegetable and herb seedlings by the hundreds. The seedlings are intended to support people who’ve been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic, and are facing barriers to access plants and garden materials. More details about these distribution days will be shared via our social media and other outlets as they become available so keep your eyes and ears open!

This year we’re also hosting a series of workshops on fruit trees, community orchards, and urban food growing! In partnership with the City of Victoria, we will be hosting workshops once a month to build knowledge and spark inspiration in our neighbourhood. We’re excited for these spring workshops:

April 30 – Fruit Tree Care: An introductory workshop on fruit tree care throughout the year. Following a seasonal schedule, we will outline the tasks that can be done to enhance the health, beauty, and productivity of fruit trees. We’ll set you up to have a healthy and fruitful tree for years to come!

May 28 – Planning A Community Orchard: An exciting look at the nuts and bolts of planning a community orchard. We will take a look at design considerations, tree selection, community mobilizing, permit requirements, and other resources to help you get your dream orchard off the ground. More community trees please!

June 18 – Urban Food Tour: We’re stoked to premiere the Urban Food Tour, an inspiring walking tour of some of Victoria’s most innovative urban food production sites, all within walking distance of the Fernwood Community Centre!

For more information and to register for these workshops head to victoria.ca/recreation and click on the Growing in the City Programs. There will be more workshops to come in the summer and fall!

And of course, we will be hosting monthly volunteer days in our very own Fernwood Community Orchard and ­Gardens to keep them healthy and productive. We grow fruit, vegetables, and herbs for our community to harvest, and for our amazing Chefs Patrick and Jake to use in the kitchen. We’ll host our volunteer days in June, July, and August—they’re a great opportunity to come out and meet like-minded people while learning about all our gardens have to offer. To sign up for our garden volunteer mailing list, email ­jj­@­fernwoodnrg.ca.