I can’t grow anything to save my life, as demonstrated by my summer gardening project that produced the three most expensive tomatoes in the world. I did, however, manage to grow lots of weeds. Wow, those weeds look great. They’re easy upkeep, too.
So, I admire people who garden well. Pretty flowerbeds and English gardens are lovely, but I have a soft, squishy spot for vegetable gardens. It gets even squishier when they’re public or community gardens, because not only do they highlight food production, but they also break up an otherwise corporate-branded, urban environment.
There are lots of community plots along the old CP railway line, with a high concentration around the Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden. The Demonstration Garden is run by City Farmer, which also runs a variety of workshops throughout the year. Their summer workshops on organic gardening always sell out weeks in advance, and they’ve also got great sessions about composting – worm or otherwise.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by community gardens in more urban spots, too. There’s one at Pacific & Seymour, in what used to be the parking lot of the Bulldog Clubhouse. Just the other day, I discovered a brand new one at the corner of Davie & Burrard. In the time it took me to meet a friend for breakfast, someone had gone in and planted a row of salad greens. These two plots are Greenspace projects of the Vancouver Public Space Network, which advocates for – you guessed it – having more public space in the city.
The most surprising community garden I’ve seen so far is on East Hastings, between Main and Columbia. On a city block that is better known for homelessness and drug abuse, the sight of a community garden is a welcome break.
All of this ties into a recent social planning initiative by the City of Vancouver to have 2,010 shared garden plots by the year 2010. Now, bear in mind that their definition of a “shared garden plot” includes a lot more than just community gardens – it includes things like sharing garden plots, rooftop gardens, and the “grow a row” program – but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden (a project of City Farmer)
2150 Maple Street
For more information about community gardens (including where to find them), check out:
City Farmer’s list of community gardens
Greenspaces, a project of the Vancouver Public Space Network
The City of Vancouver’s Shared Garden Plot initiative