Last summer, through Vancouver Coastal Health’s SMART Fund with an aim of encouraging youth initiative for long term community development, Bella Coola Valley Learning Society (BCVLS) started a new project for Bella Coola Valley teenagers. As facilitator, I entrusted a few interested teens with the responsibility of co-developing this new project. The name “Teen Takeover” was collectively invented and our first theme of interest was “food,” learning where it comes from and how we might be able to produce it ourselves.
Summer 2015 Teen Takeover, The Garden Project, set out on a series of field trips to witness how local valley dwellers are currently achieving successful food production and management. Together we learned a little about soil building, greenhouse culture, handling livestock, and how insanely distracting cute lambs can be! Diving right in, we planted our own seeds in the yard of New Leaf Learning Centre, located behind Mackenzie United Church, and watched the seedlings mature into a healthy garden.
Energized by a successful strawberry patch and equipped with a brief documentary we made of their achievements, sisters Claudia and Catriona Nelson committed to making sure the project continued this year. We shared Teen Takeover’s efforts with B.C. Hydro and applied for B.C. Hydro Community Investment Funding to establish The Garden Project for another season, and our wish was granted! BCVLS and all those involved in the project want to give B.C. Hydro a big thank you for its recognition of the Bella Coola Valley and its generous investment in the community.
This year we started off steady, but unfortunately in mid-spring, our garden suffered damage which pushed us to move the project into 4 Mile and become a part of the Putl’iixw Community Garden, a move which is turning out to be a very positive change. Corissa Lee, Putl’iixw Garden manager, welcomed us with tools and water to share. “This is better,” said Claudia Nelson, viewing the progress of her garden plot being rebuilt and personally shoveling in the fertile soil. Teen Takeover now feels at home in Putl’iixw and we are looking forward to the project developing in the comfort of the community garden.
All in all this season was another success: we nurtured seedlings, got our hands in the dirt (and sheepishly in the manure), gained knowledge from those more experienced and, with a big shout out to Taslynn Nelson, we have homemade pickles on our shelves! Claudia and Catriona are receiving honorariums for their achievements within the project this year.
Having survived a few challenges and feeling positive about the future, Teen Takeover would like to sincerely say thank you to Vancouver Coastal Health and B.C. Hydro for inspiring youth, to Bella Coola Valley Learning Society for supporting this initiative, to New Leaf Learning Centre for being a generous host, to Putl’iixw Community Garden for so willingly accommodating us, and to Corissa for her hard work and accomplishments within the Putl’iixw Community Garden. We end this summer seeing greater possibilities for the next! Until then!