Hilma LaBelle isn’t going to be able to set up an Incredible Edibles garden around the new Pickleball courts off South Main, but she’s even happier with the site city council chose to dedicate to it.
Council voted unanimously Monday to give the society a short term licence to use vacant land in front of the Seniors’ Drop-in Centre. During construction of the pickleball courts, LaBelle had suggested that instead of standard landscaping, the city make room for the group to set up a garden.
The land around the pickleball courts wasn’t considered suitable, according to Len Robson, manager of public works, who suggested the nearby vacant lots in the corner of the Drop-in Centre property as an alternative.
Incredible Edibles is a movement started in the UK, where volunteers take unused land and construct a food garden, which is then open for anyone to work on and help themselves to the food produced. In Penticton, the group has constructed a successful project at the Village by the Station care home, and reclaimed a piece of land along the 300 block of Main Street that was going to weed.
“It is part of the food-for-free initiative of Incredible Edibles,” said LaBelle. “Any excess will go to the food bank.”
LaBelle was happy with the council’s support and a one-year licence, saying that it was even more suitable.
“We have Incredible Edible volunteers that live in that area and they are already committing to work at that garden,” said LaBelle.
Though the directors of the Drop-in Centre had some concerns about the garden, LaBelle said the concept of a garden in the area has been received enthusiastically.
“I have had people phoning me and emailing me, they want that site. We’ve had people coming forward saying ‘that is so close to where I live’ or ‘there is so many single family parents down there, that is going to be awesome,’” said LaBelle.
The city will need to improve the lot a little to make it suitable, installing a water spigot and supplying topsoil. Robson estimated that will cost the city about $2,000.
To support the new garden, Incredible Edibles has a fundraiser coming up on Oct. 10. at the Downtown Market. LaBelle said there will be a variety of activities including a silent auction with artist donated works.
“We have some returning donors, because in spring, when we had our spring fundraiser, the pieces of artwork were so well received and there was a huge bidding war on some of the pieces, so they have kindly donated more of their work,” said LaBelle. There will also be plants and vegetables for a donation along with gardening related products.
Topping off the fun is a scarecrow contest.
“We are inviting kids and families to come down and bring a scarecrow they have made. We will have supplies there for people that want to join in and build a scarecrow at the table there,” said LaBelle. “We have the world’s biggest Hubbard squash as the prize. It was just too wonderful to let it go out on its own. We will also be encouraging people to join the newly formed, Incredible Edible Penticton society.”