LINC (Long Term Inmates Now in the Community) will be expanding its community garden project, and has received approval from the district to use land at Blott Park and about five acres south of the Hatzic cemetery.
The non-profit organization already looks after the Soapbox Community Garden near the Leisure Centre, and say more space is needed from which to cultivate in order to fund its operations, including a support group for survivors of homicide. LINC also donates 10 per cent of its produce to local non-profit groups, such as Missions Kitchens and the food centre.
There is also a demand from local residents to rent a plot for their personal use. There are currently six on the waiting list, said Sherry Edmonds-Flett.
The Soapbox Community Garden contains 29 plots, but only 27 are useable. LINC has two gardens, and some are donated to non-profit groups, such as Mission Friendship Centre and Mission Community Services. Twenty others are rented to individuals for $35 a year.
LINC uses the space throughout the year.
“We turn over the plots and will weed and water when you are not there,” explained Edmonds-Flett. “The current garden is now at the point where we just need to maintain it.”
Edmonds-Flett estimates an additional 15 plots will be available for the public to lease at Blott Park, but the lands by Hatzic cemetery will be used only by LINC once the land is cleared, which will be about two years.
In addition to selling its produce, LINC also receives funding for the garden through grants and donations.
LINC was involved with the Soapbox Community Garden for six years before taking over its management.
“It was a volunteer opportunity for us,” said Edmonds-Flett, noting her husband Glen, who manages the garden, says, “‘You are less likely to rob and steal in a community where you have a vested interest.'”
Food security is also an issue for people coming out of prison and for many of their families, and community gardens are an important part of strengthening food security, she said.
To learn more about LINC, visit lincsociety.bc.ca.