Annikki Egolf (from left), Judy Chambers, Wanda Long, Darrell Ashworth, Larry Chambers, Kim Egolf from the Williams Lake Chapter of the Harley Owners Group, Michelle Iverson from the Food Policy Council and her two daughters, plus early childhood educators Konnie Solomon and Kelsey Getz, and students from Exploring the Puddle Early Years Centre gathered to celebrate new growth for the Kids Garden on Carson Drive. LeRae Haynes Photo.

Bikers group HOG helps grow Kids Garden on Carson Drive

‘Young children and gardening is a magical fit’

LeRae HAYNES

Special to the Tribune/Advisor

The Kids Garden on Carson Street received $1,000 last month from the Williams Lake Harley Owners Group to upgrade, maintain and expand the garden, guaranteed to educate, feed and delight more children and families in the community.

Williams Lake Food Policy Council action co-ordinator Michelle Iverson said that the incredible donation could not have come at a better time.

“This donation from HOG is huge for us. There aren’t thanks enough for their generosity and their belief in what we’re doing,” she explained.

“My children grew up in the dirt, learning about sprouting seeds and growing food and exploring the garden. I take it for granted how lucky we are to do that. It’s great to see kids get to come here to this garden, who make not have those same opportunities.

“Even if they’re not always planting or eating — even if they’re sitting in the grass, playing in the dirt and watching bugs, it’s wonderful.”

The kids planted sunflowers and various vegetables.

The donation came about through Annikki Egolf, a child and youth care/family support worker at the Child Development Centre (CDC) who is also a member of HOG. She explained that the CDC has been involved with the Community Garden and the Kids Garden from the very beginning.

“Lots of kids and families enjoy gardening because of this program — we know how important it is,” she said.

“Young children and gardening is a magical fit: it’s a great life skill and a wonderful way for kids to learn where food comes from and how easy it is to grow your own.”

She said sometimes she takes food back from the garden and teaches kids at CDC how to make soup.

“Some of our kids live in apartments or have parents who don’t garden,” she added, “and some don’t even know what a carrot looks like while it’s growing.”

Michelle has been with the Food Policy Council since 2010 and has seen some big change in the garden. “It’s so alive, so responsive to the community’s growing needs and changing directions,” she stated.

“The space itself has changed; people love driving by and seeing so many users in the garden.”

She explained that the Kids Garden is her personal passion. “It was built originally for one use but has expanded and changed.

“We took it apart and rebuilt it based on working with Exploring the Puddle Early Learning Centre and Little Moccasins Learning Centre. We did a lot of researching and talking with these groups, and the kids garden was redesigned and is a fresh, new work in progress.”

She said you can’t put a price on kids learning where their food comes from. “I got my start teaching in downtown Calgary in a church basement, growing gardens in containers,” she explained.

“I saw kids who don’t often go to the grocery store, getting to eat lettuce and spinach that they helped plant and nourish; picking and eating tiny carrots was eye-opening for them. That planted the seed for me.”

The Williams Lake HOG chapter was glad to hear about the Kids Garden program and were happy to help. They also support things like the Salvation Army, the Rotary Club Starfish program, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Brain Injury Society and have provided groceries for families.

They said they get funds from their local dues, and every few months Harley Davidson sends a cheque to the local chapter that they put to charitable use in the community.

They do two rides a week, and a memorial ride for members who have passed away.

There are currently 33 members in the group and new members are always welcome.

They’re a group that looks after each other and looks after children throughout the community. “They’re our future leaders,” said member Judy Chambers. “It’s the right thing to do.”

For more information about the Williams Lake Harley Owners Group, including how to become a member, visit www.wlhog.com or e-mail membershipwilliamslakehog@gmail.com.

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