The Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Centre has entered into a partnership with the Coombs Farmers Institute and is transforming the space into a garden. — Lauren Collins photo

Parksville chamber partners with Coombs Farmers’ Institute

Basics of Food Gardening Classes starting April, 2018

A partnership between a local farmers’ institute and a chamber of commerce is hoping to give residents a chance to become self-reliant with their food.

The Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Centre has entered into a partnership with the Coombs Farmers’ Institute and is transforming the space in front of the visitor centre into a garden. As many projects do, the partnership came about because of a chance meeting. Kim Burden, executive director for the chamber, and Janet Thony, president of the Coombs Farmers’ Institute, met at an event and struck up a conversation.

“Part of the chamber’s strategic plan includes exploring new ways to increase awareness around our social responsibility to the community,” said Burden. “By providing the opportunity for the Coombs Farmers’ Institute to use the space as a demonstration and teaching garden, we are contributing to the social well-being of the community. Teaching people to grow food gives them the chance to be more self-reliant. Ultimately, we want the harvest to find its way to those who need it. It’s a win for everyone involved.”

In late-September, a group of volunteers worked to install the raised beds and garden, and on Sept. 18 the chamber opened to a newly planted garden. The staff and students of the Coombs Famers’ Institute Here We Grow school planted and prepared the beds for winter.

Thony said the second year of the two-year pilot project will offer the Basics of Food Gardening classes starting April, 2018.

“To get started with the chamber garden, we have planted fruit trees, vegetables and flowers to brighten up the garden. Cabbage, broccoli, spinach, chard, radish, lettuce, endive, turnip, carrots and kale round out the selection for vegetables that will do well over the winter months,” Thony said.

For more information, visit or

— Submitted by the Parksville Chamber of Commerce

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