A fire over the Easter long weekend, which is being investigated as arson, destroyed a community garden’s shed, much of its space and hundreds of hours dedicated to establishing a safe garden for community members to use.
At around 2 a.m., Saturday, April 8th, police and fire crews responded to Oswald Park to extinguish a blaze that had destroyed a garden shed full of equipment and gardening essentials.
The shed specifically held wheelbarrows, tents, tables, seeds and various garden tools that have all been completely lost to the fire, along with a composting area and accessible garden beds.
Preliminary evidence leads police to believe someone lit the Oswald Park Community Garden’s shed on fire intentionally.
Haneen Ghebari, Food Security and Garden Coordinator for the Oaklands Community Association told Victoria Buzz the impact on the community has been devastating.
“It was pretty extensive, I’m thankful that the fire didn’t spread to the nearby neighbours,” Ghebari said.
“The area’s taped off right now while they’re conducting an investigation and we’re not allowed in but, now’s the time for planting and to have that delayed gives us nothing but question marks on where we go from here.”
The recently created Oswald Park Community Garden celebrated its first anniversary on April 10th, just two days after the blaze destroyed what so many community members had come to rely on.
“Over the last few years, food security has become such a large need of our community, as far as food costs and inflation go,” Ghebari told Victoria Buzz.
“We’ve seen an influx of people coming to be a part of these programs and so for us to establish a community garden last year in the middle of this community need was such a huge step forward.”
Around 50 people including families who don’t have space to grow their own food, or can’t afford to are the ones directly affected by this devastating destruction.
The garden was insured, so Ghebari said they believe all that was lost to the blaze will be able to be replaced following the investigation, but donations can be made via the Oaklands Community Association for those who would like to contribute to the organization.
“Since this has happened I’ve had an influx of emails and people contacting us,” Ghebari told Victoria Buzz. “It’s been such a great community response of people wanting to support, help rebuild and donate.”
“Although this has been really difficult, it’s really great to see how cohesive of a community we have and how willing they are to support when something devastating happens.”