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  • Writer's pictureEymie Labbe

Owen Nakamura, West Kootenay Youth Climate Corps Alumni Interview

Youth Climate Corps has been operating since 2020 and now has over 50 alumni who have completed the program with us. Youth Climate Corps is proud to share the stories of alumni after their passage through the program, underlining their creativity, engagement and awesome project within the field of climate they continue working on.

Owen Nakamura has been part of the first Youth Climate Corps program held by Wildsight in West Kootenay in 2020. Owen Nakamura is now a certified Organic Master Gardener who aims to provide all people with the skills and knowledge to become more sustainable. A warrior within the garden, Owen, aims to inspire more warriors to be more self-sustainable, self-reliant and self-aware of the environment.

From Youth Climate Corps experience to The Grand Gardener

Owen has always had a green thumb and a background in gardening, with 10 + years of experience working for various landscaping businesses. Owen was inspired by a YCC project hosted at Thimble Hill Nursery, which taught him how to grow harmoniously while using permaculture principles within our everyday lives. “Thimble Hill Nursery opened my eyes to how to work symbiotically with our environment. What they were doing out there really got me thinking of ways I could bring a similar message to our community. Not long after that, The Grand Gardener was born.”

Food security, preservation, and strengthening communities through education are fundamental to Owen. After the YCC program, a burning desire to help others encouraged him to go back and gain his qualification in Organic Master Gardening. This led to the launch of Owen’s dream project.

Grand Gardener

The Grand Gardener (TGG) seeks to strengthen communities by encouraging self-sustainability by teaching people how to grow their own food. TGG provides workshops on various organic gardening methods, one-on-one consultations, organic garden bed installations, organic garden bed revamps and garden parties for clients and their friends. Owen’s business has a strong focus on skill building and information sharing, so his clients take home a skill that will last them a lifetime. TGG aims to empower people by encouraging connection to the land and teaching people to garden themselves with the right tools of knowledge. Owen just started his business, The Grand Gardener, this past June. Owen’s company helps people grow their food using various permaculture methods and organic gardening practices. Owen has a “no-till” approach to gardening, which he says “improves the health and biome of the soil, which can otherwise be depleted or disturbed by over tilling.” Owen says, " Whether creating your own worm compost bins under your sink or making birthday cards out of wildflower seeds and recycled paper, we aim to reduce as much waste as we can and find ways to waste as waste as we can little as possible.”

What inspired the Grand Gardener, to come to be, is the realization that a major part of the population in Canada doesn’t know how to grow their own food. Helping people become less reliant and more self-sufficient has been a big priority for The Grand Gardener. One of Owen’s favourite sayings is an old Chinese proverb, “It's better to be a warrior in the garden than a gardener in a war.” He says, “To me, my life is about acquiring the skills and knowledge so that I can help my family, those I care about and my community as well. I want to feel confident in my abilities and inspire others to feel the true benefit of growing your own food”. Youth Climate Corps for Owen

“I would highly recommend YCC to any young person wanting to get actively involved and support the community through sustainability.” “Youth Climate Corps encouraged me to combine my environmental passion with my goal of inspiring others. Many people are interested in growing their food and adopting sustainable gardening practices. YCC brings together many minds that focus on solutions. It is more than just a bunch of young people trying to make changes. YCC is future leaders inspiring each other to be the change”. Follow Owen and his dream project, The Grand Gardener, on Facebook & Instagram.

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