Behold the power of the quarter-acre Serenity Farm

Using the fertile soils of the Blenkinsop Valley

Clay has long been underrated for its ability to retain nutrients that slip through the fertile top soils of Greater Victoria.

And it’s the very clay from one of the newest orchards in the Blenkinsop Valley in Serenity Farm, that Fernwood resident Graeme Kilshaw has used to build dozens of seed bombs.

“Seed balls or bombs, they can take up to three years flower,” says Kilshaw, standing next to the Serenity Farm orchard. “I used the clay from the orchard to make these seedballs to promote pollinators for the new orchard, hopefully we can create a whole wall of wild flowers to bring the bees.”

Kilshaw’s career pursuits are heavily focused in math and academics, but he’s also a volunteer gardener at Serenity Farm, which started six years ago as a small plot and has now grown to 14,580 square-feet. Kilshaw is also hoping to become involved in selling seed bombs and using to money towards initiatives for the homeless community in Victoria.

The year-old orchard is part of thesloping property that includes Serenity Farm below Seven Oaks Tertiary Care Facility. It started in 2012 to encourage food production for people with mental health or addiction concerns, or for those doing court ordered community service.

“They’ve all come together with community garden volunteers to grow organic food for themselves and the community,” said project coordinator David Stott.

“It’s amazing how much produce comes out of a quarter-acre,” said Cody T., who is part of the twice-weekly crew that is picked up on Pandora Avenue and bused to Serenity Farm. “We take our share home even before we put aside the goods for selling, the garden makes a lot of food.”

Serenity Farm is a relatively new name as the initiative started as Feeding Ourselves and Others.

Produce is used in series of ways. Some is donated to the Mustard Seed Food Bank and Our Place, and some is sold at The Local General Store at Haultain Corners.

Members of Serenity Farm also sell the food at a produce stand outside the Sussex Building at Broughton and Douglas streets, starting at 3:30 p.m. on every second Thursday (next is June 16).

Serenity Farm is sponsored by the John Howard Society of Victoria with assistance from the Island Health Assertive Community Treatment Teams, the Victoria Integrated Court initiative, Seven Oaks Tertiary Care Facility, and with funding and support from United Way, Island Health and other donours.

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Serenity Farm sign. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Volunteer Graeme Kilshaw built a few dozen seedbombs of wildflowers to promote bee pollination in the young orchard at Serenity Farm. Travis Paterson/News Staff

A natural bird repellent at Serenity Farm. Travis Paterson/News Staff

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