Serenity Farm puts the community in community garden

Garden at the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility benefits close to 50 participants

David Stott

David Stott

It’s been a great four years for the folks at Serenity Farm, but project co-ordinator David Stott says it wouldn’t be possible without support from the community.

At last week’s Feeding Ourselves and Others event, Stott said the therapeutic community garden – which offers fresh food for disadvantaged people – has gained support from the local Blenkinsop Valley area, as well as all corners of Vancouver Island. As the fruits and vegetables have grown, so has the number of volunteers, which he said is vital to sustaining Serenity Farm.

“We’ve got all the elements for a successful project,” said Stott. “We have great soil, great people, really good community support.

“The important thing for us is, we’re operating now on the same budget we had in 2012, and we’re operating with three times as many participants and community volunteers.”

Originally, the garden at the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility had about a dozen regular participants. This year, Stott said they have close to 50, allowing them to continue the program with the same amount of funding as when it began.

“The reason we haven’t had to expand our budget is because we have so many volunteers and so many donations from the community,” he said. “That’s enabled us to do things we otherwise couldn’t do.”

The garden is currently producing some vibrant spring crops, including strawberries, lettuce and rhubarb. Stott called Serenity Farm an “evolving project,” and while it’s somewhat an experiment, he said it’s proven to be invaluable to the low-income residents it serves.

“We’re finding that the longer people spend time in the project, the better their outcomes are, the better they feel about themselves and the better things work out for them, generally,” he said.

“I want this to become a recognized community asset. This is an important part of our community and that will ensure our sustainability.”

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