Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

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From the ground up - Whistler community greenhouses are growing bigger expectations



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“We all share and learn from each other,” says Jim Cook, who, though he will humbly deny it, is seen as the amazingly hard-working, hands-on garden coordinator with triple green thumbs (Jim was also named Whistler’s Citizen of the Year for 2007).

Why does he put in so much time and effort?

“I don’t know,” he says with a laugh. “I guess the enjoyment for me is when people come up and say thanks for all the work you put in. That’s when you realize you have contributed something.”

But this project is by no means the result of any singular effort. As the word “community” in the name suggests, the greenhouses have been a success from the get-go only through the dedication and support of countless people and organizations, including the original lunch club that met once a month with Steve to figure out ways to be more sustainable.

So it’s only natural that Jim, in turn, tips his baseball cap to people like Paul Beswetherick, the head of horticulture at muni hall, who is instrumental in getting the soil analyses done which determine what nutrients to add and when. Jim does not use compost, nor does he add things like bone meal or fish fertilizer to replenish the soil, but magic ingredients like trace elements from glacial till have proven invaluable in keeping the greenery growing.

And that’s another bonus about using the community greenhouses: you won’t have to worry about creating bear attractants with your own veggie garden or compost heap. Contrary to current myths, there are no current bylaws against compost heaps and gardens per se, but there are bylaws against keeping food or food waste on your property unsecured, not to mention the wisdom of plain common sense.

So with so much of the work done for you, what will you get to do with your garden plot? Tenderly weed and prune it, pinch back the tips for bushier growth, invent innovative trellises from bamboo or piping to support your growing concerns, pick your bounty once it’s ready and plant more of the special organic seed Jim will order for you to keep your household continuously in fresh bounty for at least half of the year.

And what with all the help and encouragement you receive, you may well get hooked like Jim and Steve and find yourself branching out into all sorts of sustainable directions.



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