By Keith Vass - Victoria News
Published: April 13, 2010 11:00 AM
More carrots, cabbage and kale could sprout in parks, vacant lots and boulevards in Victoria if a coalition of local groups gets its way.
The Dogwood Initiative is teaming up with Lifecycles and Transition Towns to recruit volunteers interested in creating community gardens in a movement they've dubbed the Reclaim the Commons Robin Hood Gardening Initiative.
"This is about making sure that every parent that lives in this city can afford to feed their kids breakfast before they go to school in the morning," said the Dogwood Initiative's Gordon O'Connor.
Guerilla gardeners have made headlines in recent weeks by digging plots on the University of Victoria campus without permission.
The Dogwood Initiative has been involved in some confrontational protests in the past, from a running battle with the Royal Canadian Mint over stickers on loonies to a recent apology for using live chickens in a protest at Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong's office.
But O'Connor said the approach on this project will be co-operative, working with city staff to get official support before any shovels go in the ground.
"Victoria has some very progressive community gardening policies and we intend to take them up on their offer and start planting."
While the City of Victoria isn't the only Capital Region municipality that has policies to foster community gardens on public land – Saanich does as well – O'Connor said the group will start there and approach other municipalities later.
Victoria parks director Kate Friars said the door is open to working with any community group interested in starting and maintaining gardens on any city-owned piece of land.
The city has received a lot of enquiries about planting food on boulevards, and has granted specific permissions to some property owners to plant vegetables on boulevards fronting their homes.
But a policy on boulevard gardens is going to have to wait while the city completes a review of its maintenance program for the roadside strips.
"It's on our workplan, we know we need to get down to getting on with it," said Friars.