Royal Roads University unveiled a new food garden designed to serve as both a learning lab for students and a sustainable food production hub for the greater Colwood community.
The project, expected to cost around $500,000 over two years, is the return of food-producing gardens to the area. The original Dunsmuir estate had a kitchen garden, dating back more than a century.
“By reimagining what was once the Dunsmuir’s kitchen garden into becoming a community food production hub, we are creating an edible landscape,” said Royal Roads president and vice-chancellor Philip Steenkamp. “We are converting an underused 5.26-acre plot into a garden producing an abundance of organic vegetables, fruit, honey and herbs.”
On Wednesday (April 13), a planting ceremony was held in the first section of row crop beds named the Giving Garden. It will feature nutrient-dense crops destined for donation to local food banks and community organizations, with the edges planted with pollinator-attracting plants.
The area will eventually grow to include fruit and nut trees, a root cellar, a farm stand, an Indigenous edible and medicinal garden, and a Chinese farmer memorial to commemorate the farmers and gardeners who worked the historic Dunsmuir gardens.
“I just think food and food security is so important right now,” said Steenkamp. “Over the last few years we have seen disruptions in our supply chain, we have seen food prices go up, and I think it is important that we grow food locally, that we grow food close to home so we provide for some of our own needs but also so we can address the food insecurity we know exists within our community.”
The first garden harvest is expected later this summer and will feature squash, collard greens, edible flowers, and more.
“I think we can produce hundreds of pounds of produce here, and it is just the first part of a larger project. I have no doubt we are going to be getting a big harvest out of this garden,” said Solara Goldwyn, food systems manager for the kitchen garden.
The garden unveiling ceremony also served as the launch for this year’s Vision in Bloom fundraising campaign, which has a goal of $250,000. The funds raised through donations will be used to restore, reimagine and sustain the university’s sprawling green spaces.
In addition to the new kitchen garden, the funds will be used for ongoing projects to expand the Japanese Gardens, restore the original greenhouse from the Dunsmuir era, expand the existing apiary, and support the Legacy and Bench Program.
Donations to the campaign can be made online at rruinbloom.ca.