Natasha Van Bentum has had a garden plot at the Montreal Street Community Garden in James Bay for the last seven years. She said tending her plot helps her to get away from screens and enjoy the sunshine. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Natasha Van Bentum has had a garden plot at the Montreal Street Community Garden in James Bay for the last seven years. She said tending her plot helps her to get away from screens and enjoy the sunshine. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Victoria’s community garden plots a hot commodity

Eager gardeners could wait three years or more for plots in local gardens

With dense multi-unit housing in Victoria on the rise, a huge amount of residents are without access to personal green space – and local community gardens aren’t keeping up with demand.

The majority of spaces in Victoria’s allotment gardens have significant wait times – up to and above three years.

Available community garden plots are hard to come by in Victoria, where most gardens have wait lists of 20 or more people. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

“There just aren’t enough community gardens,” said Rachel O’Neill, manager of communications and development at the Burnside Gorge Community Association, which operates a 23-plot community garden.

The City of Victoria has the highest proportion of apartment units in the region at 63 per cent, and the lowest proportion of ground-oriented dwellings at 36 per cent – meaning a huge number of residents are without yards.

And the number of apartment buildings is expected to continue growing. The city’s official community plan forecasts a need for an additional 13,500 apartment units over the next 30 years.

“If you look at the number of high density buildings, there is not enough green space,” O’Neill said. “There are lots of folks that aren’t living in single family houses.”

Burnside Allotment Garden has no available plots and at least 50 people on the wait list.

“Everybody has wait lists, there seems to be more demand than there are spaces available in the region,” O’Neill said. “I think there is more awareness of food security on a local level [and] the health benefits … it’s also really therapeutic to get your hands in the dirt.”

READ ALSO: James Bay street corner could house public berry patch

READ ALSO: Fernwood garden in the middle of land dispute with school district 61

The Montreal Street Community Garden in James Bay is the oldest in Victoria. Started in 1977, the 54-plot garden has about 60 people on its wait list, and continues to get five to six plot enquiries a month. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

But gardeners hoping for their own plot will have to be patient – a majority of the city’s allotment gardens are full.

The Montreal Street Community Garden, formerly the James Bay Garden Association, was started in 1977 and is the oldest community garden in Victoria.

The garden has a rich agricultural history – called “Lekwammen” or “the land of the winds” by the Songhees First Nations, the traditional Coast Salish territory was harvested for camus bulbs, berries, and pacific willow.

Post-colonization, the land was also used for farming by the Hudson’s Bay Company, and by 1977, before it was transformed to a garden, was a neighbourhood dump site and the location of a hydro transformer.

The garden now boasts 54 plots, roughly 12 by 15 feet in size.

READ ALSO: Honeybees find a home at Gordon Head community garden

“We have a long waiting list,” said garden chair Christina Mitchell in an email. “There are 60 people on the waiting list. We get around [five to six] enquiries a month. It can take up to three years before a plot becomes available.”

The Rayn or Shine Community Garden, run by the Vic West Food Security Collective, was built on a gravel parking lot in 2004. The small, nine-plot garden is full and has a 20-person wait list.

And the 80-plot Yates Street Community Garden is also full, with a wait list of about 20 people.

O’Neill hopes more gardeners take matters into their own hands and create more gardens in the city.

“We live in an arguably very stressful time for a lot of folks. Being able to unplug and be in a natural space is great with this activity,” she said. “[Gardening is] healthy and calming.”

“I think gardens are a wonderful addition to the community, I would encourage for people to start more gardens.”

The City of Victoria has developed a land inventory to identify city-owned land with community garden potential. Those interested in starting a garden can fill out forms available on the City of Victoria website.

READ ALSO: City of Victoria offers funding for neighbourhood enhancement projects



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penelope the cat showed up safe and sound at her owner’s porch after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks. (Photo courtesy of Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing)
Penelope, cat and friend of the Victoria HarbourCats, returns home safe

The cat had an after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks

Saanich police detectives are investigating a reported sexual assault that occurred near Glanford Park on the evening of Dec. 29, 2020 and have shared an artist’s rendering of the individual. (Image via Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Saanich police release sketch of suspect sought in December sexual assault

Anyone with information asked to contact detectives, Crime Stoppers

Sharon McNeill (right) was among the first batch of residents to pick up free seeds and seedlings from Ali Rivers, Central Saanich’s climate action specialist, during Thursday’s Seed Giveaway. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Central Saanich plants seeds in the fight against climate change

Seed Giveaway promotes environmental stewardship

Habitat Acquisition Trust has received provincial funding to help restore Garry oak ecosystems on southern Vancouver Island. (Photo by Jeremy da Silva)
Central Saanich park among sites for local Garry oak restoration projects

Habitat Acquisition Trust received $140,000 in funding for 12 projects

The Compost Education Centre is hosting its annual spring plant sale on May 8 at 1216 North Park St. Physical distancing protocols will be in effect during the sale, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Black Press Media file photo)
This weekend: Tenth annual spring plant sale hosted by Victoria Compost Education Centre

The non-profit event Saturday, May 8 will feature numerous varieties of plants, live music

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read