More Victoria residents will soon have better access to food security and garden space with new community gardens being approved by city council.
A recommendation was made to council at a meeting on Thursday, April 27th by the Parks, Recreation and Facilities department to implement four more community gardens throughout the community.
The lucky neighbourhoods to get these gardens are James Bay, which will get two gardens, Fernwood and Fairfield.
Victoria approved 4 new community gardens today! This is an important step towards greater local food security, community vibrancy and beautification. #yyj #victoriabc
🪴32 Lewis Street
🪴Montreal Street Berry Patch
🪴Ross Bay Native Plant Garden
🪴Fernwood Native Plant Meadow pic.twitter.com/ANSFfGNoDX
— Matt Dell (@mattdellok) April 27, 2023
Lewis Park Commons Garden
One James Bay Garden will be the Lewis Park Commons Garden located at 32 Lewis Street. For 15 years garden beds have already been in the park, but they haven’t been tended to as no proper stewardship delegation was established by the city.
Residents put forth an expression of interest to have proper stewardship and maintenance of the garden as a place residents could grow food in 2018, but it was ultimately put on the backburner by council and city staff.
The James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) wants to take over the garden so residents can do just that.
“The existing garden continues to have a positive impact on the park and its formalization will allow for consistent management and make sure the area’s intended use as a food growing commons is fully realized,” said Alex Harned, Coordinator for Food Systems and Urban Agriculture in Victoria.
Montreal Street Berry Patch
The other James Bay community garden will be dubbed the Montreal Street Berry Patch. It is another project the JBNA has been working on getting approval for since 2018.
The JBNA wants two separate sites along Montreal Street to be turned into berry patches and gardens but as a part of the report that was brought before council, only one site located at the intersection of Montreal and Kingston Street is being considered.
“The green space between Montreal and Kingston where the Montreal Street Berry Patch is being proposed was originally built as a traffic calming feature,” said Harned.
“The space currently hosts two existing trees and has no competing uses.”
The berry patch will consist of three zones in its compact space: one for colourful flowers and edible herbs, one for various food plants and one for a small seating area with planters.
Ross Bay Native Plant Garden
The proposal for the Ross Bay Native Plant Garden located on lower Memorial Crescent green has been in the works since 2021 by the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association (FGCA).
They call for a new community garden west of the Ross Bay Cemetery that would consist of mostly pollinator plants and plant species that are native to the area.
“The vision of the Ross Bay Native Plant Garden is to create dedicated space for native plants that promotes biodiversity, food and habitat for native wildlife and fosters community engagement,” Harned explained before council.
“The garden would consist of drought tolerant, medicinal and food producing native plants, a gravel pathway and educational signage.”
Fernwood Native Plant Meadow
The most recently proposed just last year, the Fernwood Native Plant Meadow would be located on the slope located on the southeast side of William Stevenson Memorial Park to the east of the Fernwood Community Centre.
“The creation of the native plant meadow would convert an underutilized area currently populated by invasive plant species into a diverse and complex prairie oak meadow,” said Harned.
“The meadow would be planted with commons, camas, fawn lily, chocolate lily, wild strawberry, woodland strawberry, roamers, fescue, June grass and broadleaf shooting star.”
This project would provide Fernwood residents with an educational space for learning about endangered native plants and ecosystems in Victoria.
This meadow is also intended to be a food sovereignty garden for the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations.
Prior to these four gardens being approved, there were 27 community gardens in the City of Victoria and now there will soon be 31 in total.
The two native plant gardens would be the first two in Victoria specifically intended for species native to the area.
“I’m really excited to see us expanding the number of community gardens in the community,” Councillor Jeremy Caradonna said enthusiastically, as he moved the staff recommendation forward.
“I’m just so pleased that this city is so supportive of community gardens and we’ve set aside the funding for it and that you all do the work that you do, so just really thrilled to support this motion,” he said to Harned.