National energy challenge spurs support of gardens

Nanaimo’s Belbin family is looking to support community gardens and the food bank.

  • Nov. 19, 2011 6:00 a.m.

By Wayne Emde

With less than a month to go in their three-month quest to win the Canadian Geographic/Shell Canada Energy Diet Challenge, Nanaimo’s Belbin family is looking to support community gardens and the food bank.

The Belbins – Grant, Alison and children Drew, Kai and Mara – have been blogging their experiences on the challenge website, hoping others will be inspired by the simple changes they’ve made in their home.

The Belbins recently got involved with the Young Professionals of Nanaimo community garden project and decided to take it further.

“For mere pennies a year [$30], our family now rents a garden bed and in the spring we’ll start growing vegetables and flowers side-by-side with community members who know more than we do,” said Alison.

The YPN gardens are set up at former gas station sites.

“These sites will help teach those with no gardening experience how to grow and care for plants. We have the potential to educate and inspire the community to create gardens of their own, while providing an alternative use for some of our city’s most visible empty lots,” said Jenn Bogwald of the YPN.

The past two months made the Belbins acutely aware of many energy saving strategies and one of them is the energy cost of importing food.

“When we found out less than five per cent of the food consumed on the Island is grown locally, we realized it’s with projects like this one that we can increase these numbers,” said Alison. “Across Canada, there are over 2,800 abandoned gas stations sitting vacant. Imagine if all of these could be turned into community gardens? It’s mind blowing.”

Although they have to wait until spring before they can plant their new garden, the family was inspired to make an immediate impact.

If they win the challenge, they plan to donate $500 to the expansion and growth of the community gardens and match that with a donation from their business, 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, for a total of $1,000 to be split between providing fresh foods to the food bank this Christmas and promoting sustainability and education year-round through the community gardens.

There’s a catch. Part of the competition with the other five families involves rallying community members to go to the the Energy Diet Challenge website daily and vote for the Belbins, who are currently in second place.

“A vote for us is now a vote for a healthier Nanaimo,” said Alison.

To vote for the Belbins, please go to

For more information about the YPN garden project, please e-mail

Just Posted

City of Nanaimo says it’s ‘back on track’ with waste collection

Mechanical issues, ‘additional pressures’ caused delays

House fire in Nanaimo earlier this month being investigated as suspicious

Nanaimo Fire Rescue hands over Palomino Place house fire investigation to RCMP

Young jiu-jitsu athletes win medals on the mat

Nanaimo’s Island Top Team athletes fare well at Richmond tournament

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Snowbirds’ militarism shouldn’t be celebrated

The public has accepted this military demonstration team as benign entertainment, says letter writer

Hundreds of Kin club members meeting in Nanaimo this week

Service club holding national convention Aug. 21-24

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Police seek tips in 2015 death of Island teen Brown

Four years has passed since the body of Penelakut Island woman was discovered

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

Most Read