Natasha Van Bentum has had a garden plot at the Montreal Street Community Garden in James Bay for the last seven years. She said tending her plot helps her to get away from screens and enjoy the sunshine. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Victoria’s community garden plots a hot commodity

Eager gardeners could wait three years or more for plots in local gardens

With dense multi-unit housing in Victoria on the rise, a huge amount of residents are without access to personal green space – and local community gardens aren’t keeping up with demand.

The majority of spaces in Victoria’s allotment gardens have significant wait times – up to and above three years.

Available community garden plots are hard to come by in Victoria, where most gardens have wait lists of 20 or more people. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

“There just aren’t enough community gardens,” said Rachel O’Neill, manager of communications and development at the Burnside Gorge Community Association, which operates a 23-plot community garden.

The City of Victoria has the highest proportion of apartment units in the region at 63 per cent, and the lowest proportion of ground-oriented dwellings at 36 per cent – meaning a huge number of residents are without yards.

And the number of apartment buildings is expected to continue growing. The city’s official community plan forecasts a need for an additional 13,500 apartment units over the next 30 years.

“If you look at the number of high density buildings, there is not enough green space,” O’Neill said. “There are lots of folks that aren’t living in single family houses.”

Burnside Allotment Garden has no available plots and at least 50 people on the wait list.

“Everybody has wait lists, there seems to be more demand than there are spaces available in the region,” O’Neill said. “I think there is more awareness of food security on a local level [and] the health benefits … it’s also really therapeutic to get your hands in the dirt.”

READ ALSO: James Bay street corner could house public berry patch

READ ALSO: Fernwood garden in the middle of land dispute with school district 61

The Montreal Street Community Garden in James Bay is the oldest in Victoria. Started in 1977, the 54-plot garden has about 60 people on its wait list, and continues to get five to six plot enquiries a month. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

But gardeners hoping for their own plot will have to be patient – a majority of the city’s allotment gardens are full.

The Montreal Street Community Garden, formerly the James Bay Garden Association, was started in 1977 and is the oldest community garden in Victoria.

The garden has a rich agricultural history – called “Lekwammen” or “the land of the winds” by the Songhees First Nations, the traditional Coast Salish territory was harvested for camus bulbs, berries, and pacific willow.

Post-colonization, the land was also used for farming by the Hudson’s Bay Company, and by 1977, before it was transformed to a garden, was a neighbourhood dump site and the location of a hydro transformer.

The garden now boasts 54 plots, roughly 12 by 15 feet in size.

READ ALSO: Honeybees find a home at Gordon Head community garden

“We have a long waiting list,” said garden chair Christina Mitchell in an email. “There are 60 people on the waiting list. We get around [five to six] enquiries a month. It can take up to three years before a plot becomes available.”

The Rayn or Shine Community Garden, run by the Vic West Food Security Collective, was built on a gravel parking lot in 2004. The small, nine-plot garden is full and has a 20-person wait list.

And the 80-plot Yates Street Community Garden is also full, with a wait list of about 20 people.

O’Neill hopes more gardeners take matters into their own hands and create more gardens in the city.

“We live in an arguably very stressful time for a lot of folks. Being able to unplug and be in a natural space is great with this activity,” she said. “[Gardening is] healthy and calming.”

“I think gardens are a wonderful addition to the community, I would encourage for people to start more gardens.”

The City of Victoria has developed a land inventory to identify city-owned land with community garden potential. Those interested in starting a garden can fill out forms available on the City of Victoria website.

READ ALSO: City of Victoria offers funding for neighbourhood enhancement projects



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Langford racing enthusiast back in driver’s seat of life after surviving aggressive cancer

70-year-old David Smith finishes mid-pack in Canada 200 race at Western Speedway

New nurse practitioner-led medical clinic welcomes Victoria patients

Health Care on Yates expects to serve 6,800 new patients over the next three years

Central Saanich needs at least more than 500 additional daycare spaces

Report before Central Saanich says region faces a ‘chronic shortage’ of daycare spaces

New branch of Royal BC Museum to be built in Colwood

New faclity in the Royal Bay development will house collections, archives and research department

MISSING: West Shore RCMP searching for 15-year-old last seen Sept. 13

Mackenzie Courchene still missing despite several tips, possible sightings, police say

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Most Read