Ex-cons and survivors of crime usually don’t spend a lot of time together, but at Emma’s Acres in Hatzic, the two groups are brought together through gardening.
Long Term Inmates Now in the Community (LINC) Society founder, and a lifer released from prison, Glen Flett spent more than three and a half hours watering the five-acre vegetable garden last week with Ray King, whose son was killed by Clifford Olson.
“Emma’s Acres is breaking ground in more ways than one,” said LINC director Sherry Edmunds-Flett, who is married to Glen.
LINC developed Emma’s Acres to help people impacted by the criminal justice system. Offenders coming out of jails are given a chance to develop a sense of community, and profits from the sale of produce support survivors of crime.
The vegetables, herbs, and flowers grown at Emma’s Acres are sold at the Mission City Farmers Market, but anyone who is a survivor of homicide gets anything sold at the LINC table free of charge. Some of the produce is also donated to other local non-profit groups, including the food banks and community kitchen.
“It’s the least we can do,” said Edmunds-Flett, noting what has developed in Mission is “really special” because there isn’t anything else like it in Canada.
The District of Mission leased the property, located south of the Hatzic cemetery, to the non-profit society in 2012, and volunteers spent much of the past year clearing the land. A quonset hut was built earlier this year and Edmunds-Flett hopes to have greenhouses in place later this fall.
Currently, a variety of crops have been planted in the field, including potatoes, beans, peppers and squash. All the vegetables are watered by hand three days a week.
It’s a lot of work trucking in the water, explained Edmunds-Flett.
A fundraiser is also underway to bring water to the property and have a drip irrigation system installed. The group has set a goal of $16,000, but only 25 per cent of it has been raised so far. Donors can give by the inch ($5), foot ($60), yard ($180), or acre ($800). With a minimum $20 donation, you will receive a tax receipt and have your name put on a plaque at Emma’s Acres. Anyone contributing at least $8,000 will also receive a box of goods from the garden for six weeks.
Donations can be made online at lincsociety.bc.ca, or by calling 604-820-1015.