Cops go beyond the kale of duty
Vancouver Police rooftop vegetable garden at VPD headquarters in Vancouver, B.C. on Wednesday August 21, 2013. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
Vancouver police have opened a new rooftop vegetable garden to help officers reduce stress.
And for the coordinator of the force's crisis negotiation team, tending the crop doesn't just put greens on her dinner table.
“My job can be high stress at times,” said Const. Cinda Michael. “It's wonderful to be able to take a few minutes out of my day, pull some weeds, water some plants and decompress, and get back to work — and have fresh vegetables to take home in the evening for dinner.”
The idea for the plot came from the civilian administrator of the emergency response section — which also includes dog and tactical squads — after walking past a nearby community garden. Navigating rows of tomatoes, rainbow chard and kale, the female staffer, who asked not to be named, offered 24 hours a crunchy green bean, fresh from the vine.
“Nobody was using this ugly patio,” she said. “So we got volunteers to donate seeds, clear out the roots, and had a planting day back in May. Week after week, we've had people watering and weeding.”
Crops from the garden are donated to the Urban Native Youth Association's culinary training program.
“It's one of the most stress-relieving things,” the administrator said. “This is a great outlet for sure.
VPD spokesman Sgt. Randy Fincham said the garden coincides with the force's sustainability efforts, known as Code Green.
“The volunteers come tend and water the garden during their lunch breaks, coffee breaks and after work,” he said. “It's kind of caught on.
“They find some kind of creative outlet when they need a break from the daily grind.”