Back in April I found myself looking ahead at a summer full of uncertainty. I had unexpectedly returned home from a study abroad three months early and was eager to find a way to make the best use of this newly freed-up time. I was soon reminded of a project in our community which, though having existed for several years, has seen a substantial increase in support this year. The Butler Urban Farm, a collaborative garden now under the leadership of the Kamloops Food Policy Council, sits on Kamloops’ Northshore across the street from the Food Bank. The farm seeks to grow produce for those who need it - whether it be the wonderful people running organizations like the Kamloops Covid Meal Train, or simply individuals in need of healthy produce. With this space, we hope to both lend a hand to our fellow Kamloopsians, and increase our community resiliency. In times such as these, working together to support one another is crucial, and has been the natural response of many in our compassionate city.
While seeing the beautiful produce grow from seed to harvest is even more rewarding when knowing it goes to a good home, volunteering at the Butler Urban Farm is also a labour of love for many. Despite the long hot days (or rainy days for much of this season thus far), working with the land has always been an extremely enriching experience. While enjoying the outdoors, we get the chance to reconnect with our food system, our ecosystem, and our city. Not to mention the delicious veggies that come out of the farm which volunteers are also welcome to share in. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet other volunteers (in a safe, socially distanced, outdoor environment) who I may not have normally crossed paths with. While weeding and planting we’ve shared stories, advice, and experiences - vegetable related and far beyond. The hands-on learning I’ve gained throughout the summer has guided my gardening attempts at home, and I must extend my endless gratitude to our farm manager Kevin Pankewich for answering millions of questions regarding soil health, tomato pruning, and whether or not something is a weed.
Making the farm successful has required many hours of trial and error, tireless efforts on the part of the volunteers, our partner organizations, the KFPC, and our farm manager. It allows creativity and community vision to flourish, and collaborative thought and action to create a remarkable display of community spirit. We enthusiastically encourage any interested community members to join the project. Whether or not you have previous gardening experience, this farm is a wonderful place to learn and experiment. We grow a wide variety of plants, from potatoes to chickpeas. We’ve planted wild asparagus seedlings, we have a herb garden, a wildflower garden, and with the support of the Kamloops Naturalist Club we have a native plant garden on the horizon.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from this experience is the vast wealth of knowledge and resources our community holds. In sharing these with one another, we see the multiplier effect in action - leading to increased growth and capacity Kamloops-wide. Building our community food sovereignty protects us in times of crises. It allows us to protect and support ourselves when the unexpected occurs. And equally as important, it makes our community more vibrant, connected, and abundant.
To find out about produce donations, volunteering, or any other info about the Butler Urban Farm, contact email@example.com.