Dover Bay eco club raising money for food forest

NANAIMO – High school students raising money for food forest through a bottle drive.

With the aim of raising money for a community food forest garden, the Dover Bay Secondary School Eco Club is holding a bottle drive Saturday (Sept. 28).

The club does have some money earmarked for the garden but it is hoping people can help it raise additional money by donating bottles to the drive, which goes between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. at the school’s parking lot on 6135 McGirr Rd.

Isabella Thorsteinsdottir, Grade 12 student and member of the club’s leadership team, said the club wants to reach out to the community and get any type of help it can.

“If people know about the bottle drive and actually start bringing the bottles to us, while we’re having this bottle drive in front of the school, that would [make for] an even more successful bottle drive than just going out to neighbourhoods, taking a bag and asking people to empty their garages of the bottles,” Thorsteinsdottir said.

She said it’s hard to maintain small gardens, as constant watering is required, and the food forest won’t require as much maintenance. All manner of fruits and vegetables will be grown in the food forest and the yield will not only go toward the school cafeteria but will also be available to the community, particularly local farmers’ markets.

“We’re trying to open up the community, so essentially what this is a forest permaculture (system of sustainable food production) so we can have a lot of different varieties of plants,” said Terry Zhang, another leadership team member. “We can have really exotic fruits such as berries and anything else. The plants work together to have a healthy relationship … this is a low-maintenance food forest.”

The food forest will replace a large gravel patch in front of Dover Bay Secondary School and the club is not far from realizing its dream.

“We’re hoping to start cultivating the land, take all the gravel away and start putting soil in by December,” said leadership team member Monica Mun. “Hopefully by this spring, we can do the planting.”