The new Intergenerational Garden coordinator may be young, but she is driven, and full of excellent ideas for the coming growing season.
Mackenna Patrick, 21, is in the third year of a bachelor of agricultural science degree at the University of the Fraser Valley. She lived in Maple Ridge until she was 13, and still has close ties to the community.
When the opportunity to work for the project – which is run by the Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Katzie Seniors Network – became available, she was instantly drawn to it.
“I’ve always been super interested in social enterprise and care farming,” Patrick said.
“I think it’s really important when it comes to food production to get the community involved.”
After all, if you give a man a vegetable, he will eat for a day, but if you teach a man to farm, he’ll eat for a lifetime.
Patrick will be coordinating with 14 classes from Eric Langton elementary, and St. Patrick’s school, as well as a group of seniors, who will all be testing and cultivating their green thumbs.
There are about two seniors scheduled to help with each class, she said.
“They volunteer to teach, which is super cool because they have so much knowledge,” she noted.
Classes will begin on the first week of April, and the first harvests should be seen by the end of June.
“My goal this year is to go for high yields, because we do provide food for the (Friends in Need) food bank,” Patrick said.
To do so, she is hoping to use methods such as companion planting.
“You can plant two plants really close together that don’t need the same nutrients,” she said. “Because they won’t compete against each other, you can produce double the food on the same amount of land.”
She is looking forward to sharing some knowledge with the students and local seniors, and learning lots herself in the process.
“I’m working hard to integrate some of my agricultural knowledge with the gardening knowledge the seniors have,” Patrick said.
As a science major, she is keen to study the whole process in depth, too.
“I want to see the weight of food produced, how much water I’m putting in, how much fertilizer I’m using, and then I’d like to track it each year, even if I’m not the coordinator any more.
“Just as a research project, so we can see the growth, and people who give us grants and support us can see what their money’s doing.”
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