As black dirt peeps through melting ice and dormant branches stretch upwards toward the sun, gardeners are beginning to envision what their flowerbeds and vegetable patches might look like come summer. But not all of those gardeners will get to make their vision a reality, as the limited garden space in Oliver’s Peace Garden Park can only provide plots to 87 residents.
But what is spring without hope? Motivated by the success of Peace Garden Park, Oliver’s most popular community green-space, the OCL’s garden director Justin Keats and other members of the league are on the lookout for a second garden location in the neighbourhood’s Grandin area. “The ideal space would be a field or undeveloped lot, bordered with trees, and with a slice of sky that is generally untouched by the shade of highrises,” says Keats. “It’s a chance to naturalize a concrete lot.”
The current waiting time for a plot is two years. Another site, says Keats, “would serve more individuals who otherwise lack the space to garden.”
Cliff Balog, who’s planted in Peace Garden from the start, in 2009, agrees. “Having another garden in the Oliver community will bring people out of their condos and highrises and develop a sense of belonging,” he says. “Even those who don’t have plots already come to talk to gardeners.”
A second garden space won’t come easy: There are the issues of finding a site, of purchasing the land and of submitting a proposal to the City for redevelopment. “A new space would have to be facilitated by a new group of volunteers who would step forward to lead with the garden’s development,” adds Keats, who’s currently trying to source committed volunteers.
But for Hilda Sucre, all that work is worth the effort of building beautiful neighbourhoods. “When you close your eyes, it’s warm, peaceful, you can hear the birds chirping, smell the earth’s aroma, near the rose beds you can smell their fragrance,” says the avid Oliver gardener. “The community really needs more garden spaces, as there is always a waiting list.”
Are you interested in helping start another much-needed garden? Join other community members on April 10 (details above) to see how you can help.
Where’s my nearest community garden?
- Peace Garden Park (10259 120 St.)
- Our Urban Eden Garden (9910 Bellamy Hill Rd.)
- COMING SOON: Alex Decoteau Park (105 St. & 102 Ave.; if you’re interested in joining the garden committee email firstname.lastname@example.org)