Pilot community project sprouts on Pandora

A new pilot project that embodies the spirit of community is sprouting in Victoria.

A new pilot project that embodies the spirit of community is sprouting in Victoria.

During last week’s governance and priorities meeting, Victoria city council approved a one-year pilot boulevard project on Pandora Parkway (900 block of Pandora) to open a new community garden.

The garden will include four, 1.2-metre raised cedar planter boxes for a total area of approximately nine square metres and will sit three feet from the Pandora Avenue curb.

The project is a joint venture between LifeCycles Project Society, the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network and the Pandora Task Force (which includes representatives from a number of community groups) and will be maintained by the two societies and surrounding businesses.

Many businesses have already donated flowers, box construction, organic fertilizer, soil and wood to get the project off the ground.

Jim LaMorte, a volunteer with the placemaking network, said they hope the garden will encourage people to come together on one of the city’s most difficult streets.

He said the wide avenue separates businesses on the north and south side, but also has high foot traffic.

“No one seems to know each other or they mistrust what’s happening on the street. So our idea was to do a project that brings people together,” said LaMorte, adding a garden will allow people to reconnect with their food and beautify the neighbourhood.

“I think there’s a deep hunger for this type of community effort and it’s not just that organizations want to participate, but they want to see different individuals coming together. It’s not a single organization that’s doing it, it’s a bunch of strangers.”

Families at the neighbouring Our Place Society will help hand-water the garden as well.

“We have lots of family members, especially those in our transitional housing, that find working in a garden is very therapeutic. It can be a very calming and positive influence,” said Grant McKenzie, spokesperson with the society.

“Just playing in the dirt and having that sense of accomplishment when you actually harvest something or when something blooms is a big part of positive reinforcement.”

Food that gets harvested in the winter will go to the Our Place kitchen and will be used in salads and soups to help feed the homeless.

Morte expects the garden will be ready to plant at the beginning of October.