Low income senior brings significant bounty to Kelowna foodbank

Will Smith, 71, may not have much in the way of material riches, but with a plot of land one-quarter the size of an average Kelowna yard, he’s grown ingredients fit for a month-long vegan feast.

“I produced a couple hundred pounds of carrots,” said the Pleasantvale resident Tuesday, as he surveyed his six-by-eight foot garden. “And we have another hundred pounds of beets.”

The carrots and beets, which will go into dry storage, will help sustain Smith throughout the winter, but there’s a lot of bounty for one man to handle.

That’s why he’s already given some of his harvest to his neighbours at the low-income seniors complex where he lives.

And, as beets were being pulled from the ground Tuesday, their edible tops were being lopped off and packaged up to be donated to the food bank.

By Smith’s estimates, farming and the edible rewards that can be reaped from it, is the best way forward in terms of creating a sustainable community.

But he has some concerns that the little niche he’s carved out may cease to be in years to come.

Pleasantvale, the city’s oldest seniors’ housing complex, was passed from the Rotary Club of Kelowna to B.C. Housing at the cost of a dollar.

The provincial housing authority is expected to change the 38,400 square foot bachelor suites and 12 one-bedroom apartments into a higher density building.

Current residents will get housing in the units at the cost they currently pay when anything new is built. Before that happens, however, Smith is making a plea that his garden, or a garden of its kind, be kept in mind.

“We’ve put in a request to the board to ask if they rebuild, will they give 1,000 square feet for a garden,” he said.

“The people we have here don’t have a lot of money and there’s so much potential. In terms of group development, it could create a dynamic where people work together and feel united and bound in belonging. If the Rotary would support this, and put it through to architects, it would vitalize the future for the old residents.”

In addition to a garden space, Smith is hoping any new development could come along with a root cellar, for storage, and he’s said as much to the board overseeing the building.

He hasn’t heard anything yet, but in the meantime he’ll keep gardening.

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