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Building capacity among Vancouver’s urban growers

Celebrating a decade of community gardening at Vancouver City Hall

Vancouver City Hall Community Garden, 2019 Image: Steven Godfrey
Image: Steven Godfrey

Published on July 15, 2019

What do urban dwellers do when they want to grow their own food? Usually, they have one of two options: they can either perfect the art of small space gardening or sign up for a community garden plot.

In Vancouver, community gardens can be found in most neighbourhoods but the demand for new plots continues to rise. In response, the City of Vancouver dedicated the resources required to build community gardens across the city, even building one at City Hall!

Welcome sign at Vancouver City Hall Community Garden

Evergreen is proud to have supported Vancouver City Hall's community garden for over a decade. The garden was first implemented as a partnership between Evergreen and the City of Vancouver in 2009 and was part of municipal strategy to develop 2,010 garden plots before 2010. Upon opening, the garden boasted 30 plots and has since added an additional 11 due to high demand (and a five-year waitlist!)

Since its inception, gardeners of all skill levels from around the city have taken care of the lush greenery. With the help of Master Gardeners such as Judy Shinnick, the site has grown exponentially over the past decade.  

The City Hall Community Garden is part of our community and it has engaged us in ways that we could not have envisioned before. We have met people we never knew who have been our neighbours for nearly twenty years. We have been engaged in conversations with other gardeners from around the city who stop by to chat while we are working on our plot. We have learned much from these contacts that would not have been possible prior to the community garden’s existence."

The gardens were built to be a permanent fixture; we wanted a place where anyone interested in learning about how to grow their own food in the city could gather. Since opening in 2009, the garden has seen thousands of visitors - those taking care of their own plots and those attending workshops and events to learn about urban agriculture from our Master Gardeners.

Group gathered at the 10th anniversary celebration of Vancouver City Hall Community Garden

Now, the fate of the gardens are entrusted to capable hands.

Gardeners who have learned how to take care of their food systems in the middle of an urban environment will continue to grow the gardens for years to come. They will then pass their knowledge along to visitors and future growers alike, teaching Vancouver residents how to grow their own food wherever they reside.

Lettuce growing at Vancouver City Hall Community Garden

Evergreen's main purpose in supporting Vancouver City Hall's community garden was to help local community members develop sustainable urban agriculture practices and share them with their peers, building out capacity to create more community gardens across the city and beyond. 

After 10 years under the guidance and support of Evergreen, Steven Godfrey and a group of fellow gardeners have branched out on their own to create a nonprofit society, the Vancouver City Hall Community Garden Society. Godfrey has been a member of the community garden since 2013 after three years on a wait list.

 

I was thrilled when the email finally came through telling me that I finally had a plot in which to grow some veggies in my neighbourhood... At first we were a little nervous about what this shift would mean, especially as Evergreen has been an excellent organization to work with. However, like a young bird being nudged out of its nest and into flight for the first time, we have responded as a community and team and embraced our new direction wholeheartedly. We have a talented community of gardeners and an experienced and knowledgeable Board committed to learning and growing in the years ahead. I’m very excited about our garden’s future!
Steven Godfrey

At the 10th Anniversary Celebration in June, community members, partners and City staff joined together to applaud the passionate work that has been poured into the garden over the past decade.

Display at the 10th anniversary celebration of Vancouver City Hall Community Garden

Looking forward, the Vancouver City Hall Community Garden Society is planning to renew and upgrade their composting system and engaging the broader community as a living lab for urban gardening and sustainability.

Evergreen is proud to have helped Vancouver City Hall's Community Garden become the strong community connection point that it is today: from hosting a wedding, to serving as a classroom for students, to a Council Meeting and everything in between!

The Vancouver City Hall Community Garden can look forward to many years of knowledge sharing among Vancouver's urban growers and city builders for years to come.