TG Garden Club Welcomes Neighbourhood Gardeners
This growing season, the Tonari Gumi Garden Club presented not one but two workshops on Japanese Herbs. This came about because there was desire and energy among us to hold a public event that engaged members of our neighbourhood garden community. We received a grant from the City of Vancouver’s Neighbourhood Small Grant Program to hold a public workshop.
Our inaugural event “Introduction to Japanese Herbs” took place on May 26th and focused on seven key herbs: shiso (Perilla frutescens), shungiku (edible chrysanthemum), sansho (Japanese pepper), mitsuba (Japanese parsley), kaiware-na (daikon radish sprouts), yomogi (Japanese mugwort) and myouga (Japanese ginger). Nearly 40 people gathered as the event started with an acknowledgment of the Coast Salish Territories, an introduction of Tonari Gumi followed by a powerpoint presentation by club members Makiko Suzuki and Atsumi Hashimoto detailing how to grow these seven herbs. Participants were given seeds donated by West Coast Seeds, and seedlings of shiso grown by the garden club. Now, folks were well equipped to propagate their own herbs.
The evening culminated into the much-revered and appreciated socializing while sampling the buffet of dishes created with the herbs. These dishes were thoughtfully prepared by some of our amazing chefs, particularly Kimiko Hijigai with support from Sumiko Nakata, Atsumi & Junichi Hashimoto, Makiko Suzuki, Thomas Kamiya, Eileen Kage and Mariko Takashina.
Thanks to donations from Fujiya, West Coast Seeds and the many in-kind contribution from the garden club members, we had some grant money left over which propelled us to do another workshop. Thus on August 25th, we presented “Shiso Fest – Introduction the Japanese Herbs Part 2”.
‘Shiso Fest’ followed much of the same format as our first workshop but with a focus on the culinary potential of the shiso. By then, shiso plants were at their peak for harvest, which made this workshop particularly popular, bringing nearly 50 participants to TG for the powerpoint instructions and the buffet of shiso drinks and dishes. Both events attracted a good cross section of our community including young to old, serious to hobby gardeners, food security enthusiasts, environmentalists and community-minded fans of fresh home cooked dishes. We will likely do workshops of this type on an annual basis.
The garden club is currently working on compiling information about the history of growing Japanese heritage vegetables and herbs in the lower mainland and across BC. We hope to create a book that will include stories of senior Japanese Canadian farmers and their recipes all for the purpose of documenting and sharing this priceless information.
If anyone is interested in our projects, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org