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The Fruits of their Labour

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Every year the Energy and Environmental Sustainability (EES) team collaborates with PHSA’s Healthy Promotion Initiative Fund (HPIF) team to support projects that promote active and clean transportation initiatives, workplace garden spaces etc. through grants. Over the years, about 190 participants have benefitted from this grant initiative. In 2021, HPIF’s sustainability grant stream distributed a total of approximately $7,500 to support nine projects. One of those projects was the Community Garden Project at BC Cancer – Victoria.

Inspired by the beautiful landscape of Victoria, BC Cancer Pharmacy Professional Practice Leader Kimberly Kuik spearheaded the garden project, starting with applying for the HPIF funding. Healthy eating has always been a part of Kimberly’s life and the garden would be a way to share her passion for food with her colleagues. It was also an opportunity to bring centre staff together while growing food they could enjoy together.

As she saw it, the greening the staff patio area with garden beds “seemed like the perfect fit.” As well, it would be an opportunity for staff members without the space to garden at home to have a chance to cultivate their green thumbs.

Kimberly, with support from the leadership group at BC Cancer – Victoria, was awarded the HPIF grant and used the funding to purchase three raised garden beds, soil, and seeds.  Instrumental to the success of the project was “gardener extraordinaire” Bronwyn Arber (Patient Care Aide) and planning supporter, Heather Nash (Regional Cancer Care Coordinator). A group of staff assembled the garden beds on the patio, and the next step was to plant the seeds. Some were sown directly in the beds and others were started in trays to give them a fighting chance in cooler weather.

After a slow start, their vegetables are starting to flourish, says Kimberly. The garden is producing enough to share. “We are planning a salad day to distribute the abundance of lettuce that is ready.”

For those who are inspired by Kimberly and the team at BC Cancer – Victoria, she endorses following in their footsteps: “I would definitely suggest taking advantage of the HPIF grants to get you started.” She also recommends convening a core team to support the initiative and follow through—“Championing a new initiative takes time and energy, as well as persistence,” she admits. Now, the hard work of setting up and planting the garden is behind them and the group is enjoying the fruits of their labour. For years to come, the garden beds will be a reminder of what they can grow when they come together.