Community gardens work blossoms at Saanich’s Gorge Park

More than 100 names currently filling the wait list for the approximately 60 plots at Gorge Park Community Gardens

Gorge Tillicum Community Association board member Gabe Epstein stands in the Gorge Gorge Park Community Gardens

Gorge Tillicum Community Association board member Gabe Epstein stands in the Gorge Gorge Park Community Gardens

With communal area planting already under way and plots marked in preparation for construction, Saanich’s newest community garden is taking shape on a sunny south-facing site along the Gorge Waterway.

The Gorge Park Community Gardens, a 1,600-square-metre allotment garden at the southeast end of Gorge Park, is a collaborative project spearheaded by the Gorge Tillicum Community Association. During a tour of the site last week, board member Gabe Epstein commended the municipality and residents for their vision.

“Saanich has been amazing. It’s been an excellent collaboration between Saanich, the community association and the greater community,” he said.

Community response has also been significant, with more than 100 names currently filling the wait list for the approximately 60 plots that will be available to community groups and residents later this spring.

While the plots have been marked out, the next step is building the raised beds and with some wood already donated, fundraising is under way to secure the remaining supplies, Epstein noted.

In addition to traditional beds, several higher beds will be available for those with mobility challenges and the entire property will be linked by an accessible path.

A public gathering area, children’s play space and seating area are also being installed.

“Everybody is welcome. ‘Everybody’ is a key piece of this garden,” Epstein said, noting that membership in the community gardens is open to anyone, not only those who want a plot, meaning anyone can lend their support to the project.

“It’s a gathering space for people – for a whole diverse range of people – to meet each other, to talk about food and to share knowledge,” he said.

An initiative 14 years in the making, serious discussions began in 2011 as the community explored how to use the largely under-utilized area, asking “how can we bring people into the park for positive, proactive, recreational activity,” Epstein says.

The community garden also ties into Saanich’s Official Community Plan, which calls for greater food security support.

While a similar proposal in Royal Oak failed to fly following insufficient neighbourhood backing, early comprehensive outreach to park neighbours and the Gorge-Tillicum community helped build a positive response.

In addition to being functional, educational and accessible, the park’s proximity to the adjacent condominium buildings meant it also had to be beautiful, Epstein said, pointing out the flowering plants to be added to attract vital pollinators like bees and butterflies.

And, with its sloping site on the shores of the Gorge Waterway, the garden also needed to be organic – no herbicides or pesticides allowed – and to address the issue of run-off, achieved through a rain garden, also planted with edibles, berms and swales.

In addition to individual garden plots, which will be allocated to both individuals and community organizations like Saanich Neighbourhood Place, communal areas for members are also included are planted with herbs, strawberries, rhubarb, garlic and more. Today, visitors will notice broad beans and clover, sown as nitrogen-fixers to improve the soil. Outside the allotments, there’s also plans to plant edibles that will be accessible to the greater community, Epstein said.

A shed to house the garden’s communal tools is completed, topped with a metal roof from Irwin Industries that allows for rainwater collection, and a toilet will also be installed.

For more information about the Gorge Park Community Gardens, visit facebook.com/gorgeparkcommunitygardens or email gorgegardens@gmail.com.

Support Gorge Community Garden

Coming up Saturday, April 11 is a benefit dance at Saanich’s Les Passmore Centre for the Gorge Park Community Gardens, with music by Rusty and Roosters, live and silent auction, chocolate potluck feast and more. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $20 in advance from Gorge-ous Coffee or $25 at the door. Children under 12 are free.

For more information, email gorgegardens@gmail.com.

 

Just Posted

Hot rods, rad rods, muscle and sports cars spanning the decades made their way in a parade from North Saanich to Victoria on June 19. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Classic cars cruise Saanich Peninsula in advance of Father’s Day

Retirement home residents from North Saanich to Victoria treated to a spectacle of hot rides

A bathtub kitchen garden is part of the lineup for this year’s Teeny Tiny Garden Tour to benefit Victoria Hospice. (Screenshot/Teeny Tiny Garden Tour)
Virtual garden tour for Victoria Hospice features trio of back yards

Online tour is free; calendar purchase and donation options raise money for the cause

Al Kohut, owner of the new photographers GALLERY, checks out Looking Back by David Bradt. The photo printed on canvas is among 50 images featured in the Birds on the Wild Side exhibition showing until July 3. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Photo gallery in Sidney plucks out top bird photos

Birds on the Wild Side show running at the new photographers GALLERY until July 3

The Town of Sidney supports efforts to rename Reay Creek to KELSET, its traditional SENCOTEN name. (Black Press Media file photo)
Town of Sidney signs off on Reay Creek name change to KELSET

Name change does not affect surrounding parkland, but public supports doing so

Steve Mann and Tim Hackett consider Marigold Lands their finest development. (Rendering courtesy Marigold Lands)
Marigold residences grow more townhouses and condos in Central Saanich

50 condos, 14 townhouses up next for project adjacent to Pat Bay Highway

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Most Read