Winter Vegetables

January 16, 2010

December vegetable plots in the Hastings Street Folk Garden, Strathcona Community Garden, and a front garden bed located within a Green Streets neighbourhood.┬áDense and textured planting, deep applications of organic mulch, i.e. seaweed, leaves and straw, and transcending the need to be entirely ‘weed-free’ are common features within Vancouver community gardens.

Ideally vegetable gardens should be planted in a way inspired by nature – idiosyncratic, textured and infused with sound organic gardening practices. A vegetable garden should be more like a meadow of diverse growth rather than being neat and ordered.

Examples of creative intervention within the Hastings Street Folk Garden, a Green Streets’ Roundabout, and Strathcona Community Garden in Vancouver. All inspired by volunteers making their mark upon an urban landscape.

Pedestrians and cyclists particularly notice the personal expression gardeners contribute. The spontaneous nature of creatively improvising within roundabouts and public spaces is both a personal and public statement. It an empowering example of being able to contribute to the expressive nature within your neighbourhood. It is also an anecdote to overly contemplated designed gardens which allow little space for collective imagination.

One Green Streets volunteer describes their use for a recycled planter.

“In my office tower a few years ago, building maintenance was in the process of putting a toilet from one of our washrooms into the landfill. I intercepted and gave this toilet a street-side front row seat. Now everyone marvels at the new planter. A few shake their heads. Just for fun for a few weeks every spring, I place a pair of legs with pants and shoes upside down in the toilet, and on Christmas Eve, Santa’s legs”.

Stories from Green Streets Volunteers from Different Neighbourhoods

“I needed to do something that would renew my spirit and give me a sense of peace and optimism. That’s when I created this garden. What continually amazes me is how something so simple as this garden has stimulated so many wonderful conversations with the people in my community”.

“The circle has been a great way to express my feelings on community development and the intersection is symbolic of four merging segments of my world: family, friends, neighbours and community”.

“It has given me a real sense of community spirit”

Green Streets, Vancouver

January 16, 2010

Hundreds of volunteers in Vancouver’s neighbourhoods express the personality of their locality by creatively gardening the traffic calming circles and verges within local streets. A yellow sign designates these areas as Green Streets, a city supported venture which supports local residents to express their own style of gardening within city streets. “When neighbourhood volunteers offered their time to smarten up their streets, they not only made the street look better, but they also found that community care of public spaces slowed traffic, reduced litter,discouraged undesirable behaviour and allowed gardeners to meet their neighbours and gather the accolades of their community. Collectively, Green Streets volunteer gardens have uplifted the spirit of their communities and the look of the city” Excerpt taken from the book Green Streets published by the City of Vancouver.

Starting A Community Garden

January 16, 2010

The photo is taken in the Hastings Street Folk Garden, Vancouver Downtown Eastside, an urban regeneration project transforming an abandoned plot of land for food, garden folk art, and as a meeting place for the many residents and community groups who reside in the area. Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is a neighbourhood characterised by homelessness, poverty, drug use, crime as well as community activism.

The American Community Gardening Association offers the following tips on starting a community garden:

Initial Planning Considerations

Determine what kind of garden – vegetable, flowers, trees, a combination?

Who will the garden serve?

If the project is meant to benefit a particular group or neighbourhood, it is essential that this group be involved in all phases.

Organise a series of meetings and choose mentors to demonstrate gardening skills to equalise gardening knowledge amongst the group.

Develop a source of funding for tools, plants, trees, seeds, potting soil, publicity, etc.

Find a garden site that is easily accessible and visible to the community and name the garden.

Organise a storage space for tools, seeds, mulch, books, a communication board or notebook.

Clean the site, develop a design, organise a regular schedule for gardening work.

Assign distinct tasks for each member of the gardening team, i.e. seed-ordering, publicity, compost and mulch gathering, plant or tree buying.

Organise publicity with local newspapers, bulletin boards, schools, etc.

Organise public planting days, or open sessions for local people to learn about the garden, which might be held in conjunction with different seasonal celebrations.