I dropped my car off for servicing this morning on the way to work and so took the opportunity to walk through the Eleventh Ave community garden in the skytrain right of way on my way to the bus. This is a lovely little example of turning wasteland space (between the back of a strip mall, underneath the skytrain) into something green, beatiful and edible. Having said that, it seems to be suffering from the same sort of neglect that lots of our well-intentioned community gardens do.
I am absolutely in love with the community gardens movement in Vancouver with all sorts of small examples popping up all over the place but I do notice that for all the talk about every community garden space in the city being claimed, an awful lot of them go untended. I have been on more than one wait list without ever getting a call and apparently I am not alone. The city claims that there are currently thousands of people on wait lists for garden space.
In most community gardens there are a few really dedicated gardeners who seriously work their plot year round or at least intensively in the spring/summer…. but there also seems to be a fair number of people who garden one year and then completely forget their plot the next. Which is is fine if there is a plot reallocation process every spring so that new people can get a chance to get in. Strathcona Gardens does something like this and it seems to work well for the mainstay gardeners as well as allowing an influx of new gardeners every year.
Now I don’t want to complain too vociferously, understanding that these gardens are run by volunteers and there’s only so much time that anyone has. It’s mostly that I think the folks who claim community garden plots need to be a tad more responsible about their intentions before they block a space someone else might be able to use. While the initial enthuasiasm usually carries people through the first year, it’s easy to forget about it come other projects, and it is up to those plot holders who are wandering off to inform their garden co-ordinators that their ardour for dirt is not what it was. I personally would like a plot just for storage beans and edamame since I’m curious about trying to grow more of the protein we use all winter, but thus far I haven’t been able to get a plot close enough to our house (the new Pandora Garden was full before I found out about it) that I could go easily to tend it on a regular basis. Now I’m looking at other community spaces and wondering if we can start a garden all of our own in Clinton park or elsewhere, even while knowing there are plots going untended elsewhere.
Alas! But of course I’ve got my own yard to tend to right now anyway, and it is much easier to fit garden-tending in between other chores when I’m at home… So I’ll just remain satisfied at visiting the gardens or others and enjoy the overgrown, going to see chard and lettuce for what it is – beautiful flowers and seeds for the birds.