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Incredible Edible in Penticton

A movement to encourage people to grow more food for themselves and the community at large is thriving in Penticton.

Incredible Edible Penticton started this summer thanks to the efforts of avid gardener Hilma LaBelle and different organizations.

"It is a way to completely change the way we think about food, that it's not just a hunger for food we are feeling, but the hunger to create change in communities from the basis of kindness," said LaBelle, who is now serving as the project leader.

LaBelle said she started researching Incredible Edible when a friend sent information about the original group in Todmorden, England.

It was a while later working at the Salvation Army Food Bank garden on Martin Street, that she was approached by the South Okanagan Women in Need Society, who had a small grant to coordinate a program called We Nourish.

It was identical to the goals of the Incredible Edible project, and LaBelle was hired by SOWINS in late July.

The first part of the project was the creation of planter boxes, which has been done along with the Salvation Army, Penticton Indian Band and SOWINS, with funding from the Vancouver Foundation and Valley First.

There were 50 boxes in total and they have been split between the PIB, Salvation Army Food Bank clients, SOWINS clients and the general public.

"The idea of the boxes is providing nutrient dense produce to people without gardens or the means to purchase fresh produce," said LaBelle.

The next step will be to create public gardens in three donated spaces at the Oasis United Church, Penticton Art Gallery and on a half acre donated by a private citizen.

Volunteers will be needed to support the cultivation of the gardens and growing over-winter crops.

The ultimate goal, said LaBelle, is to encourage the city to get behind the Incredible Edible growing initiative, so they can have gardens all over, with produce that is shared and for free.

"I could even see one at the RCMP detachment. Why not?," said LaBelle. "It's going back to the idea of the town square where people took their produce and exchanged it." 

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