The first I heard about a community garden at St. Paul’s Hospital was from a friend who worked at the YMCA . That was in the Spring of 2010. I went to a community information session held at the Gordon Neighbourhood House and was quite surprised to learn that it wasn’t just a question of applying for a plot but one had to commit to several days of Intercultural Communication workshops. To qualify one either had to be an immigrant living in the West End or simply a West End resident. The ratio of participants was 60 to 40. The driving force behind this undertaking was the YMCA, GNH, David Tracey a renowned master gardener and a Brazilian student from SFU. After gardeners had been selected, planters were assigned, and the first work party took place at the beginning of June 2010. Gardening on the rooftop of St. Paul’s Hospital is quite unlike gardening in conventional community gardens with ground plots. At the hospital, there are about 150 planters attached to the railings of two decks, and to get these boxes ready for planting required an incredible amount of work. More work still is required every year to prepare the beds for spring planting. A small army of gardeners emptied all the planters by hand, shovelling old soil into recycling bins, taking them down in the elevator to a disposal bin in the parking lot of the Davie garden. The same recycling bins were then filled with healthy soil, taken up to the 4th floor again in the elevator, and shovelled back into the planters. Over the last 4 years I have learned a lot about growing food, and this year was probably my most successful year. I have grown and eaten beans, beets, kale, lettuce, carrots, garlic, and I have already started my purple sprouting broccoli which will grow over the winter. In 2012, a grassy area was converted into ground plots that were built by volunteers from King George High School. Over the last two years, we have also started taking care of the common areas, and with a number of grants this year we were able to make the East Deck quite spectacular. My favorite sight is the bird bath and two whiskey barrels full of stunning plants and blossoms (see photo). Patients and visitors alike enjoy this area immensely.
Neighbourhood Small Grants
We believe the best people to effect change in a community are the ones within it. And when we can make money less of an issue in doing so, it allows so many more kinds of ideas to shine.More by this author