Plans for community garden begin to take root

Group eyes plot of land at Regina Park near Uptown

Justin Blanchfield looks over the Gorge Park community gardens to get some ideas for the gardens he’s hoping to establish at Regina Park in Saanich.

The vision for a new community gardens slowly took root in Justin Blanchfield’s mind over the course of his daily cycle commute to work along the Galloping Goose Trail.

Blanchfield rides by Regina Park everyday on his commute downtown from his home near Swan Lake. As Blanchfield looked down from the Galloping Goose he could begin to see the garden taking shape on the big open field on Regina Street just west of Uptown.

“For years, I’ve been saying there could totally be a garden there. And then slowly in my head I visualized all the little components, and then eventually I just saw the whole thing. I saw the gardens and all the people hanging out and meeting each other and learning from each other.”

Blanchfield reached out to Saanich Coun. Dean Murdoch and began the process of turning his vision into a reality.

“No one knows where this park is because it’s completely underused. It’s next to the highway, but it’s got incredible visibility and phenomenal access,” said Blanchfield.

“I bike by everyday on the Galloping Goose and I rarely see anyone in there. People like to use the space to walk their dogs, so combining the dog walking with gardens would be fantastic.”

He envisions the Regina Park gardens to resemble those at Gorge Park, one of three public community gardens currently established in Saanich.

“I’m not interested in recreating the wheel,” said Blanchfield as he looks around at the gardens at Gorge Park. “It’s a really nice mixture of communal perennial edible planting. Fruit trees and berry plants accessible to everybody as well as some raised beds.”

There are about 50 plot-holders for the Gorge Park community gardens, each paying the $10 annual membership fee as well as 85 cents a square foot for their garden space.

“The wait list for this [Gorge Park] garden is 55 people, and they have a turnover of three to five people a year so that means there’s a 10-year waiting list,” said Blanchfield, adding that shows there is a demand for another community garden.

He would like to see a large garden at Regina Park with lots of diversity in the types of plants, with many native varieties. Blanchfield believes his background as an engineer and project management experience will help in designing the gardens that would make use of nearby storm water runoff.

“Regina Park right now just drains into ditches along the highway. We would very much improve the storm water,” he said. “CRD has invested money in this [Gorge Park] garden because what it is doing for storm water.”

Blanchfield went public with his idea over the holidays, quickly attracting 30 members to the new Galloping Goose Community Gardening Association on Facebook.

His next step is a meeting with the Mount View Colquitz Community Association Feb. 18.

“Once we’re able to get [the community association] on board they can help stickhandle the rest of the way through the approval process,” said Blanchfield, who hopes to see the first seeds planted in the new community garden sometime in 2017.

The public is welcome to attend the Feb 18 meeting at 7 p.m. in the Colquitz middle school food room. Anyone wanting to learn more about the proposed community garden can search Galloping Goose Community Gardening Association on Facebook.

 

editor@saanichnews.com

 

 

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