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Community garden plots take shape in east Richmond

New Urban Bounty executive director shares vision for Richmond gardens.

Volunteers and gardeners armed with wheelbarrows and rakes helped fill newly built community garden plots in East Richmond last week.

The garden, managed by Urban Bounty, has 29 plots, including two accessible plots, at Hamilton Community Park between the basketball court and the sports field.

There is a tool shed with all the basic tools for local gardeners, and Urban Bounty is looking to put in a picnic table and some chairs in the garden space as well.

Recently hired Urban Bounty executive director Cheney Creamer was at the site helping gardeners who haven't been able to fill their plots yet.

Creamer specializes in horticultural therapy, or therapeutic gardening, a hands-on experience in gardening as opposed to just a simple walk through a garden or park.

This is something she wants to bring to Richmond's community gardens.

"It's that 'I take care of you and you produce something for me' relationship between gardeners and their plants that gives people most of the therapeutic benefits such as physical, cognitive, logical, social and spiritual, " she said.

Hamilton is an ideal place for this type of community garden as it is closely surrounded by housing, a playground and a community centre, Creamer added.

"What we're trying to do is, rather than just sharing the produce from the garden, we're trying to share the gardening experience with as many people as possible."

Creamer has worked for different food security organizations across Metro Vancouver and has a background in organizational and personal development and personal therapy techniques through horticultural therapy.

Before becoming the executive director of Urban Bounty, Creamer's main job was her business, One Green Square Wellness Consulting, where her team explains and supports professionals in horticultural therapy.

When it comes to accessibility, Urban Bounty is working with the City of Richmond to build more wheelchair-accessible boxes where individuals can wheel themselves into the box and feel like they are immersed in the gardening plot, explained Creamer.

"We want them to be able to reach out and garden comfortably and safely for their body. If we're saying we want it to be inclusive to everybody, we need to think about all these little details for everyone."

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