Getting down and dirty

Don’t confuse these three terms: Community Gardens, Community Farms, and Incubator Farms.
                Bob McCoubrey helped clarify the difference at last Thursday’s meeting. Bob was a prime mover in helping to create the Community Gardens seen just east of Bottom Wood Lake Road. He was also the first mayor of Lake Country, a director of the Regional District of Central Okanagan, and the person largely responsible for establishing a Boys & Girls Club here in Lake Country.
                In a Community Garden, Bob told us, people rent individual plots of land, and grow whatever they want – vegetables, flowers, herbs… Community Gardens are now found in hundreds of places across the country.
                In Community Farms, volunteers work together to run a genuine farm. They provide their produce to community service agencies. The volunteers may keep one percent of the produce for their own use. Currently, community farms in this area deliver about 1200 pounds of food to local food banks.
                Lake Country has a community farm. So does Kelowna. Because, as Bob noted, one of the anomalies of geography is that it’s only a short distance for Lake Country residents to drive to Kelowna, but it’s much too far for Kelowna residents to drive to Lake Country.
                Incubator Farms – Bob’s latest project – are a way for people to try out farming without going broke first. They get a quarter acre of land, equipment, and advice to see if they’re suited to farming. They learn both how to work the land, and how to prepare business plans, etc.
                “When I started farming,” Bob admitted, “without mentors, neighbours, and friends, I wouldn’t have made it.”
                Small farms can work, Bob said. He cited one farmer who works small plots, even in back yards, and earns $80-100,000 a year by farming intensively – up to six lettuce crops a year, for example.
                Another key is replenishing the soil. The community farms use worm castings from Paul and Judy Shoemaker’s worm farm. The Shoemakers have also provided the land for the farms. “Worm guts,” Bob said, “have all the microorganisms needed for healthy soil. You just add those worm castings, and keep the microorganisms healthy y adding organic matter.
                The Shoemakers’ farm produces 15 tons of worm castings every day, from 15 million worms!

Club news

  • After having been a guest for almost six weeks, Eric Waymark finally got (re)inducted as a member of the club.
  • The club voted to purchase a popcorn machine, to supplement our food services trailer.
  • Trish Lugrin asked for suggestions for guest speakers. MLA Norm Letnick will be speaker on September 15.
  • A sign-up sheet will be circulated by e-mail, for shifts at Art Walk, from set-up on Friday evening September 11 to tear-down and cleanup on Sunday afternoon September 13. Please choose your shift and enter your commitments.