Cook Street Village burger joint plans veggie garden

Big Wheel Burger is taking another step toward greening its business, this time by cultivating a community garden.

The carbon-neutral restaurant opened in Cook Street Village with an eye to converting its strip of boulevard to green space. But it was three years before the proprietors were ready to take the plunge, said Calen McNeil, who is part of the group that owns the restaurant.

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“The city was open to it, but budget-wise, we weren’t quite there,” McNeil said.

Herbs and vegetables that complement the menu will be planted on a strip of boulevard in front of the restaurant.

McNeil plans to install a planter-box garden and benches and bike racks to encourage passersby to interact with the space.

While some community gardens have plots available for residents, this one will be more of a beautification project, McNeil said.

“It will be good for the environment, with plants producing oxygen, and nicer than what’s there now, which is basically concrete and dead grass,” he said.

The garden can also be used to teach kids where food comes from, he said.

Big Wheel Burger will be fundraising for the garden this week, which is Climate Action Week.

Until Nov. 10, $1 from each transaction will go toward the project. It hopes to raise about $1,500.

On Saturday, the restaurant will host a community event.

Students from Arbutus Middle School will run free composting and recycling stations, as well as activities such as bobbing for apples.

The garden will be developed in partnership with the Food Eco District Society, which also co-ordinated the gardens at Fort Street Common courtyard near the corner of Fort and Blanshard streets.

“Building gardens like these [is] kind of in line with a broader movement to increase urban food growing,” said society board member Jill Doucette.

Zambri’s and The Guild, also owned by McNeil and his team, are similarly carbon neutral, measuring and managing carbon emissions while offsetting what they can’t reduce through investments in green technology.

Kayli Anderson, who works with Doucette to help businesses go green as part of Synergy Enterprises, said the garden will be built in an environmentally friendly way, using “repurposed” materials.”

“Everything in the garden will be sustainable.”

asmart@timescolonist.com

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