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By Emily Jubenvill


Participants at my table discussing their favourite herbs and spices.

Food is an obvious way to bring people from different countries and cultures together to build relationships and community, and this year we are translating that into a garden project – the Multi-Herb Culture Garden. With funding from the Vancouver Foundation, this multicultural herb garden at the Queen Mary Community Garden will bring together the diversity of residents on the North Shore to participate in the planning, design, build, and maintenance. It will showcase herbs and spices commonly used in kitchens around the world.

Last week we co-hosted a great event with the North Shore Multicultural Society with over 35 interested community members sharing their favourite cooking herbs, spices, and vegetables.  EGP Community Coordinator, Christine, did a great job organizing the event! She asked me to go around to different tables answering questions during the event, but I failed to follow her instructions because I got so immersed in the great conversation at the first table I went to (sorry Christine!).

The people at my table were from mostly from China and Iran, and I really enjoyed hearing about all of the different herbs they like to use in their cooking. Despite the origin of recipes, many of the herbs and spices were similar, but were used in different ways. The most interesting plant we talked about was the Chinese Red Bayberry, which apparently has delicious fruit. I think it must be related to the Bayberry (or waxmyrtle) native to North America, but I’m not sure if we can grow it in this climate.


These two gentleman at my table had a long conversation about the pros and cons of Durian fruit

The North Shore Multicultural Society, North Shore Welcoming Action Committee, and North Shore Community Garden Society all helped to promote the event, and the room was packed with enthusiasm and great ideas. Thank you to Sochell, from the North Shore Multicultural Society! She was amazing to work with and did an incredibly job coordinating people to attend and arranging for volunteer translators to help. Whole Foods Market generously donated fruit and vegetable platters that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

At the end of our first event we have a long list of people interested in helping us plant and maintain the garden. Now Christine is going through all the notes and making a wish-list of the plants. Once we figure out which ones can grow in our climate, we will track them down at garden centres and set a date for planting in mid-May.

If you want to learn more about this project or get involved, email Christine [at] ediblegardenproject [dot] com.