Learning & Literacy at McBride's Open Gate Garden

The Open Gate Garden is a lively community garden that provides a social hub and opportunities for learning in McBride, BC. The garden is planned and implemented by the Robson Valley Community Literacy Task Group.

The group uses community development principles to engage a diverse group of community members in growing food, herbs and flowers. They have 31 raised beds, three compost bins, an eight-foot deer fence, and a state-of-the-art garden shed. It’s a flourishing garden, however the space provides more than a harvest. It’s an opportunity for community members to learn about gardening, grass roots organizing and collaboration.

Learning to garden together is stimulating both cognitively and socially. Each gardener is encouraged to go to their own physical limit when planting and tending their bed and there is assistance from volunteers for those who need it. It is a peaceful and inviting space for the community to share with local residents and visitors, and has a “help yourself” bed for visitors to pick from.

The principles of inclusion, diversity and consensus structure the work of the Community Literacy Task Group. For this reason most of the gardeners take ownership for the project and there is a high level of unity and commitment.

Many sectors of the community are represented in the Open Gate Garden; the McBride and District Public Library, the McBride Village Council, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the Old Age Pensioners, the Robson Valley Support Society, McBride Secondary School, McBride Centennial School, The Elks and Royal Purple, The Robson Valley Arts and Culture Council, the farming community, small business owners and many other individuals and families. The group received financial support from Northern Health through a 2014 IMAGINE grant.

Building on the energy of the Open Gate Garden – other local food initiatives in the community are taking root. Volunteer gardeners are also engaged in an annual Seedy Saturday, a seed library, a Kids Food Camp and a social enterprise growing and selling potatoes.     

Contact Nancy Taylor, Community Literacy Outreach Coordinator to learn more about the garden. nancy[at]dunsternancy.ca

Additional Resources

Learning is Literacy from McBride Public Library on Vimeo.

Video courtesy: Bridget Uhl: Bridgemix Productions

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