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Growing veggies & feeding families

Nature's bounty took root in Coquitlam's Inspiration Garden this summer and now Tri-City food bank users will get the benefits.

Nature's bounty took root in Coquitlam's Inspiration Garden this summer and now Tri-City food bank users will get the benefits.

"It's the freshest stuff we get," said Don Lamb, a driver for Share Family and Community Services who has been picking up produce from the city's demonstration garden on Pipeline Road since volunteers started harvesting it six weeks ago.

So far, about 200 pounds of fresh greens, carrots, beats, broccoli and beans have been delivered for distribution to the Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam food banks, said program leader Julieanne Agnew, who predicted there are enough vegetables still growing to last for several more weeks.

Squash has yet to ripen, for example, and will certainly be ready to eat in the next little while. "It's going to beautiful in fall," Agnew said.

City gardeners sowed the seeds obtained from local organic seed producers and maintained the plants throughout the summer, and, although weather delayed harvesting for a few weeks, all the hard work has borne fruit - or vegetables. Dark green kale and purple carrots and beets were among the harvest this week.

At one time, the apple trees planted at the edge of the garden were heavy with apples until someone picked them. Agnew is hoping people won't touch the rest of the vegetables that are destined for Share. In fact, many of the plots have signs asking people not to pick the vegetables.

But she can't blame those who do because the vegetables are tempting and taste so good when picked fresh. Coquitlam residents have a sense of pride about the garden and are mostly proud to know the vegetables are going to a good cause, she said.

Volunteer Diane Nipius, who was helping to weigh the produce and keeps track in a garden journal, said visitors to the garden are appreciative of the efforts that have gone in to keep the garden going, and are especially pleased the food is going to Share.

"The garden seems to make people happy," said Nipius, who is the treasurer for the Burquitlam Community Garden, which produces about 1,200 pounds of vegetables each year for Share.

This is the third year for the community garden, which was developed to show how plants could be raised organically. Agnew said some of the plants will be allowed to go to seed so children can be shown the life cycle of plants. The seeds will be planted next spring for another season.

"The seeds are very reliable," she said. "You already know they grow here."

Jasmine Choi, whose son, Bruce, and daughter, Alice, help out on harvest day, said she likes the fact her kids are getting a chance to enjoy nature and "they know they are helping the food bank."

MORE INFO ONLINE

For more information about the garden, visit www.coquitlam.ca.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

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