Garden project needs some green to bolster growth

Young professionals organization seeks cash to grow food

The Young Professionals of Nanaimo need to raise cash to grow food on abandoned lots, and they’re hitting up an online contest to try to get it.

Over the past several months, the organization has tried to secure permission to reclaim unused lots in Nanaimo, some of them former gas stations that have closed, to transform them into community gardens. Recently, the organization secured one lot with a five-year lease at 5909 Island Highway in Nanaimo’s north end from Imperial Oil, and another in the south end at Irwin and Needham streets.

Leif Bogwald, YPN president, said the community rallied around other YPN projects, including revitalizing Nanaimo’s train station, and this one is no exception. He said several community businesses, organizations and individuals have already stepped up to make the project a success.

“It’s been really amazing to see how the community has come together to support this project,” he said.

Long Lake Nurseries, Sea Soil, Idus Controls, Almost 2 Easy Moving, Windsor Plywood, and Island Aggregates & Coastal Trucking have all contributed time and materials to help reclaim the lots.

Each community garden will be developed with raised garden beds and fresh soil to eliminate any contamination concerns. Bogwald said food grown will be donated to volunteers and local food banks.

But cash will also help, so YPN has turned to an online challenge hosted by Pepsi to try to win $25,000 that would go directly to the project.

Chris Cathers, a YPN director, said a simple click of the mouse will help.

“If you cannot donate time or any resources, we at least hope [people] would help YPN bring $25,000 cash into the community for the gardens by voting online at before June 30.”

As of Wednesday morning, the effort was ranked 20th out of 69 entries in its category. The top two projects win $25,000 each from Pepsi. Winners will be announced July 1.

The group has also organized two barbecue open houses to raise money. The first is tentatively set for June 2 from 5-7 p.m. at the north end location and June 15 from 5-7 p.m. at the south end site.

For more information on the gardens or the contest, or to make a donation, please e-mail


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