Leaf Semrick helps with a tree planting ceremony during the Nanaimo Gardens Society’s official opening of its Beban Learning Garden on Saturday. (KARL YU/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo gardens society unveils new gardens, greenhouse at Beban Park

Group had to relocate due to construction at Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre

The light turned green for a new Nanaimo Community Gardens Society facility Saturday as it unveiled its Beban Learning Gardens.

The society had to relocate from a location near Neck Point Park, as the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre was undergoing expansion. The new site includes gardens and a greenhouse, which will be used for year-round growing.

Pat Wells, society volunteer and a driving force for the garden, said it received help from the City of Nanaimo in securing the site at Beban Park, near the golf course.

“When we moved here a year ago in September, it was a lawn bowling green with an artificial surface … [the lawn bowling] lease ran out and the city gave the lease to us and eventually, we got the money to build this greenhouse,” said Wells.

Money was secured from a number of different sources, including the city, grants and donations from individuals and businesses. A contractor was hired to coordinate everything and along with a lot of volunteer work, the society was able to have the garden site built up.

“What we do is we roll seedlings, vegetable seedlings mostly, some herbs and beneficial flowers, to sell to the community and to give to other community gardens to grow and then we plant a lot of them ourselves,” said Wells. “The great thing about this place is that we have outdoor growing areas as well as indoor, so we’re looking forward to filling those planter boxes outside with some of our seedlings.”

Wells said the yield will be shared among volunteers and excess will be shared with organizations such as Nanaimo Foodshare and Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank.

Education will take place with field trips, tours, hands-on volunteering and plant sales, said the society.

“Everybody that comes here, from volunteers that have been coming for 10 years to this program, greenhouse growing, are learning,” said Wells. “As we learn, we share with new volunteers that come in. We have experts come in sometimes to give us workshops and we’re hoping to do a lot more of that now that we have this facility. One of the avenues for learning about gardening is raising these seedlings that we sell and then we also grow our own stuff, so that’s another learning opportunity.”