Saanich Coun. Paul Gerrard

Saanich aims to grow its community gardens

Aspiring farmers may soon have access to two new municipal gardens to grow their goods.

Aspiring farmers may soon have access to two new municipal gardens to grow their goods.

Saanich last week announced plans to create two community gardens – one behind Commonwealth Place and one in Gorge Park – to help meet a growing demand for useable land. They would be the first new public garden spaces in Saanich in 30 years.

“It’s part of the Saanich philosophy. But there’s also more interest now in food security than there’s ever been,” said Coun. Paul Gerrard, chair of Saanich’s parks, trails and recreation committee.

“Why should we have foreign products come in? This was a farming community; we used to produce, on Vancouver Island, 75 per cent or more of our food. It’s under 10 per cent now, for sure. We need to go back to that, by putting a focus on agriculture.”

Saanich’s official community plan seeks to have a community garden in each local area. If these two open, that would bring the number of allotment gardens in Saanich to four. Already operational are the Capital City Allotment gardens and the Agnes Street gardens, each with about 140 plots, a few blocks apart near McKenzie Avenue and the Pat Bay Highway.

“I think it’s going to be a situation where if we can get these two new gardens going, we can attract more and more communities to say, ‘We want one of these in our area, too.’ That’s our hope,” Gerrard said.

Dorothy Fitzsimmons, who’s in charge of renting out plots on Agnes Street, says the more gardens Saanich has, the better.

“We had to cut our waiting list off at 70,” she said, noting that it could take a decade before those 70 gardeners-in-waiting get a plot there. “Most people keep renting them. The only ones that seem to quit are those of us who get too old to garden, and sometimes the people who take on a plot and don’t realize how much work is involved.”

Gerrard says the parks department is currently having talks with the Gorge Tillicum Urban Farmers and the Saanich Allotment Garden Advocates Association to operate and maintain the two new gardens.

“Saanich would supply the land, the water lines, the parking, but then it has to be managed,” he said. “(These groups will) have to decide who gets plots. It could be local neighbours, it could be school groups, it could also be people who live in apartments.”

There are plans, the councillor added, to look at the feasibility of turning a portion of Panama Flats into farmable land. Not just for a community garden, Gerrard said, but potentially leasing out portions of the 25-hectare property to farmers seeking new food production opportunities.

Saanich plans to host open houses in early 2013 to garner input from neighbours and the public on the proposed community gardens. Gerrard said the hope is to have the gardens open and operational by spring 2013.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

Just Posted

WATCH: Our Place Therapeutic Recovery Community turns into a ‘place of healing’

500 volunteers, 120 businesses worked to transform View Royal community

A party for 11 pups and their adoptive families in Beckwith Park in Saanich

The coonhound siblings reunited at a barbeque on Saturday

HarbourCats bats hot in home return

Victoria squad downs Yakima Valley Pippins 17-2

Victoria veteran receives French Legion of Honour, becoming knight of France

Ted Vaughan was a pilot in the 408 “Goose” Squadron in WW2

Witness the passion and fire of flamenco in Victoria this July

Seventh annual Victoria Flamenco Festival features free and ticketed performances downtown

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

Most Read