CHEK Upside: Historic Victoria hotel donates land for community garden

WatchThe Huntingdon Manor Hotel is looking for applicants in need of fresh food and perhaps a new hobby.

Holly Dumbarton and her team of over 80 volunteers with the non-profit Food Eco District are on a mission.

“We just feel like everyone should have the opportunity and the understanding to grow their own food,” said Dumbarton, project manager for the Victoria-based Food Eco District.

Operating out of the urban farm company Topsoil in Vic West, Food Eco District have been working around the clock since the COVID-19 pandemic reached British Columbia in March.

“We’re using them as our headquarters for our My FED Farm project, which is an emergency response to COVID-19 where we will be bringing food garden kits to homes all across greater Victoria,” said Dumbarton.

They estimate they’ll send out approximately two thousand planters by the year’s end. Food Eco District relies on strategic collaboration with various community groups.

Their latest community garden project includes collaboration with the over 100-year-old, iconic Huntingdon Manor Hotel in James Bay.

“The hotel industry has been hit pretty hard, so we were looking at a creative way to do our part with the community,” said Julia Canton, sustainability manager with Huntingdon Manor and Pendray Inn and Tea House.

The community garden project, which received notable input from the James Bay Neighborhood Association, is seeking out nearby residents in need of food due to the cause of the pandemic.

“It’s a food garden and it’s to help the local community in James Bay, people who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic such as the seniors, low-income families or people that have been laid off,” said Canton.

It’s an opportunity for fresh food and perhaps a new hobby as new gardeners are also encouraged to apply.

“We’re gonna provide them with the seeds, the plants and everything and basically to have that plot for one year. They’ll get to grow as they please and get some great food out of it,” said Canton.

The Food Eco District is donating 12 garden plots for 12 individuals to maintain.

The hotel is now seeking applications at

Winners will be announced on June 7.

Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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