It’s hard to think about growing flowers and vegetables with snow on the ground, but proponents of an Oaklands community garden are asking for community feedback this week as they work towards what they hope will be the final stages of planning.
Since 2015, members of the Oaklands Community Association have been working to create a community garden, proposing various sites – including Oswald, Clawthorpe, Oaklands and David Spencer parks – as sites for an “enhanced public space” to be enjoyed by all ages and abilities.
With funding from the Victoria Foundation behind them, the association has submitted an expression of interest to the City of Victoria for a garden in Oswald Park.
“We’re happy to see it having some forward momentum,” said Sarah Murray, community and fund development coordinator for the Oaklands Community Association. “[The garden] will be for community groups from Oaklands, as well as surrounding neighbourhoods. We’re hoping all ages, school groups, colleges, senior groups and meet-up groups can take advantage of a nature-filled community space with amenities in it.”
Murray says an upcoming, hands-on community garden design workshop at the Oaklands Community Association in hopes of getting feedback on the size, scope and various elements of the garden before it is submitted formally to council in March.
“During the workshop we’ll be discussing the layout, size and contents of the community garden,” Murray said. “We want to hear from the community about what they want their community garden to look like.”
So far, planners have determined that the garden will include a combination of allotment beds, community beds, benches and a tool shed. Murray says there will be roughly 20 to 30 plots spanning four by eight feet, including several accessible raised beds. The community beds will be for use by all.
Murray adds that residents of the nearby Kiwanis Pavilion, which cares for people with dementia, will be able to use the garden.
“We’re really hoping its an added benefit for the folks there,” Murray said. “They can pick some flowers or herbs, harvest a cherry tomato or two.”
Murray says if they are able to solidify a proposal and it is approved at council, they could begin building plots this spring.
“Because we already have funding in place through the Victoria Foundation and an engaged group of volunteers – if this gets approved in March we hope to get started in April,” she said. “If we get beds in the ground in April people could be growing produce this year.”
The Oswald Park Community Garden Design Workshop is on Jan. 19 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Oaklands Community Centre (1-2827 Belmont Ave.).