By Andrea Arnold

There is no shortage of good soil for the garden bed tenders at the Open Gate Community Garden in McBride this year. /SUBMITTED

This year, The Open Gate Community Garden Society in McBride was a recipient of the Four Rivers Co-op Grant process based out of Vanderhoof, and received a $800 grant donation from the Four Rivers Community Support Fund. The Society provides an opportunity for locals to grow vegetables in raised beds in the lot behind the Elks Hall. “In the past, the folks at the Open Gate Community Garden in McBride have always felt blessed by the generous donations of soil/manure and trucking by our local farmers and businesses ” said Penny Rivard, President of the Society.

“With this funding, especially during the COVID crisis, it feels good to pay it forward while keeping the funds local,” said Rivard. This year, the Society was able to pay locals, Doug Trask and Gary Moore, who in the past have donated their services. Rivard says that by receiving funds through grants, the Society is able to financially cover some of the items that are needed, and keep the money in local hands. Last fall the beds received some post harvest attention in preparation for this spring. The beds were raised by volunteers to accommodate seniors or other gardeners with mobility struggles. The funds for that project also came from a grant. Prior to the addition of the new soil, each bed received a layer of hay, donated from Robsons Organic Farm. There are many others that have contributed to the success of the garden, along with all the passionate volunteers and plot holders.

Open Gate Community Garden Society President Penny Rivard works on one of the newly raised beds readying it for more soil in preparation for planting. /ANDREA ARNOLD

On May 6th, 2020, the final step in preparing the plots for the season occurred when the solid was delivered. It is important to use quality soil, including a good mix of manure. “Manures contribute to the fertility of soil by adding organic matter and nutrients such as nitrogen,” said Rivard. It helps provide essential plant nutrients and water in adequate amounts and proportions for plant growth and reproduction.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Open Gate Community Garden Society,” said Bud Pye, President of the Board of Directors of Four Rivers Co-op. “We know that having access to healthy foods is important, and so is making sure that there are chances to be outside. This will give an opportunity to many people to do both.”

“Our 2019 Community Support Fund supports a diverse group of organizations including seniors and youth groups, community organizations and social programs,” said Allan Bieganski, General Manager for Four Rivers Co-op. “We are very happy to be able to support our communities, and are ecstatic to announce that The Open Gate Community Garden Society is one of 13 community groups to receive funding this year.”

The funding has opened more opportunities for those otherwise unable to exercise their green thumbs to grow their own food and ensure they have access to healthy, fresh foods