City gardening grows
Community gardens provide precious space for
urban green thumbs and sanctuary searchers
By MARINA SHEVCHUK
Paula Luther visits a community garden site on the corner of Victoria Drive and Hull Street.
Gardening isn’t just for your grandma anymore. Getting down in the dirt can be a great way to get some physical activity, grow delicious food and connect with people in your neighbourhood. The main obstacle urbanites are facing when it comes to gardening is finding land, which is why community gardens are becoming more popular. “Community gardens are very important for a few hundred reasons, but as our cities become busier, as people’s lives become more stressful, gardening generally is a really good way to feel better, de-stress and you get the added
benefit of exercise and some healthy food,” said Mike Levenston, founder of cityfarmer.org, a website that promotes city farming and urban agriculture. According to Levenston all you need to begin farming in the city is a bit of land and sunlight. “If you want to start a community
garden, first find a vacant piece of land and second, find out who owns it and go and see if you can get permission,” Levenston added. Paula Luther is a coordinator at the Trout Lake/Cedar Cottage Food Security Network. She said that another way to begin city farming is to join a local
community garden, particularly if you’re inexperienced. “It brings people together and we get to share our knowledge and learn from each other and it crosses those cultural and social barriers,” Luther said. According to Luther, community gardens have the power to lighten the burden on emergency food provisions such as food banks. “They can also transform neighbourhoods,” she added. Gardening volunteer Christine Boyle said that an isolated sports field at Grandview Elementary School was used by drug addicts and sex trade workers before a community garden began there in 1999. And although their garden gets raided and vandalized periodically, Boyle believes that it has brought their community closer together. “It’s really neat to have these intergenerational connections around something as important and vital as food and the earth,” Boyle said.
Visit cityfarmer.info to find gardens in your area or log onto the City of Vancouver food policy website to find all the tools you need to start one.