/ Stories

"Local solutions to local problems": The Open Gate Garden Project in McBride


Garden with wooden gate entrance
For project organizers, the Open Gate Garden in McBride demonstrates “local solutions to local problems.”

Northern Health's IMAGINE Community Grants provide funding to a variety of groups with projects that make Northern communities healthier. Our hope is that these innovative projects inspire healthy community actions where you live! Check out the story below and read more IMAGINE Community Grant stories.

The Robson Valley Community Learning Project in McBride received an IMAGINE grant for their Open Gate Garden Project.

The Open Gate Garden

We recently checked in with the project and asked how their story might inspire others. Here's what they shared:

One of the interesting aspects of our story is that the Open Gate Garden has become established during a major economic downturn. Our project seems to be demonstrating local solutions to local problems.
Woman bagging potatoes
“We walk, bend, stretch, dig, rake, shovel and eat fresh, local food. We co-operate, collaborate and communicate in meaningful ways. Gardening together in the Open Gate Garden is a real joy.”
The principles of inclusion, diversity and consensus structure the work of the Community Literacy Task Group. For this reason, most of the gardeners take ownership for the project and there is a high level of unity and commitment. The Open Gate Garden is an example of what is possible when we work together, using our gifts and combining our skills. Growing food is what most of the old timers in the community know how to do. For the newcomers, like the retired urban teachers, it's what they want to learn. There is a transmission of knowledge in an easy and relaxed manner. The metaphor of 'community as a garden' and/or 'garden as a community' could be used to tell this story. Our garden design is an asset to the McBride community because of its beauty. The beds are as unique as the gardeners who tend them.
Others would be inspired by the possibility that a healthy community can come from the wide range of folks that reside there. We believe that building the capacity, the optimum human resources of the tiny population in our valley, is what it will take to restore a stable economy. So often, we hear about 'attracting outside investments' to solve our economic problems. Yet, we all eat. There is a market for locally grown, whole foods. Most are aware of threats to food security, climate change, and environmental devastation. Surely developing independent food systems could be a start to establishing a local economy! Our story shows that community gardening is a start. From this start, engaged citizens are emerging, other related projects are blossoming, folks are becoming connected, and we are beginning to generate revenues from growing potatoes to sustain the Open Gate Garden.

We also asked Nancy Taylor, Community Literacy Outreach Coordinator (pictured during harvest time in the garden), about the impact of the Open Gate Garden and the IMAGINE Community Grant they received:

Potatoes dug up and laying above ground
Potatoes grown and sold as part of the community garden project help to sustain the Open Gate Garden.
Our IMAGINE grant funding has helped to pay for the infrastructure of the Open Gate Garden where lots of good stuff happens. Folks from all walks of life are included in the project. We share information, skills, and knowledge. We walk, bend, stretch, dig, rake, shovel, and eat fresh, local food. We co-operate, collaborate, and communicate in meaningful ways. Gardening together in the Open Gate Garden is a real joy. We are grateful for the support we have received from Northern Health. Our community is healthier because of the Open Gate Garden.

What project might serve as a start in your community?

You can start planning now because the next call out for IMAGINE Community Grants is coming soon!

IMAGINE Community Grants provide funding to community organizations, service agencies, First Nations bands and organizations, schools, municipalities, regional districts, not-for-profits, and other partners with projects that make northern communities healthier. We are looking for applications that will support our efforts to prevent chronic disease and injury, and improve overall well-being in our communities.