A small stunned group of gardeners gather at the Pilgrim Community Garden on an overcast Friday morning.
They were alerted via email two days earlier, Feb. 13, that the garden would close. The garden is on the Pilgrim United Church property in Colwood. Church members are scheduled to vote March 3 on whether to disband.
“It’s a little bit sad, and a little bit disappointing,” said gardener Andy House. “But it’s out of our control.”
The gardeners – many who were getting ready to start planting for the next season – were asked to clear their plots by the end of the month.
House lives in a View Royal condo with his wife Sharon. Any day now he will be back at the garden to dig up his strawberry plants and pot them at home where there isn’t much room.
“If you don’t live in a single family home or a duplex with a backyard, you can’t garden,” said House who plans to start looking for another plot.
For the House’s this would have been their sixth year at the garden, a summer pastime they both were looking forward to.
“It was a habit, we would grab a coffee, go to the garden and then go to the peninsula and sit on the water,” he said.
He has looked at some other community garden options but said paying upwards of $100 is too much for him, nearly double the cost of gardening at the Pilgrim site.
“I would like to see more gardens start up in the Western Communities, then it gives people the opportunity,” House said. “Nothing tastes better than the vegetables you grew yourself. I love shallots and I can grow an entire winter’s worth of shallots in four feet of my garden.”
Ami Vine-Sullivan has four plots at the garden and spent summer days there with her husband and two kids.
They built up boxed beds and trucked in soil and compost. Her plots are full of produce in February including dozens of leek and red kale plants.
“All of the greens we eat are organic and we eat a lot of fresh produce, this was a cost effective way for us to eat this way,” Vine-Sullivan said. “We have lost our investment.”
Her four-year-old son Khafre Shillitto will pick broccoli and kale straight from the garden and eat it, but vegetables from the the grocery store are often a no go.
“I am sad because I like the garden and playing here,” said the little boy, munching on a kale leaf.
“We love it here, we would often bring a picnic and spend the whole day. There are so many bugs and creatures this is a great place for children to learn,” Vine-Sullivan said. She too has no room to garden at her Colwood townhouse and will seek another garden to join.
For Doug and
Florence Skinner they are going to miss out on teaching their grandkids to garden this year. The couple’s son and children are moving to Victoria and they were already planning to get an extra plot.
“It’s a great pity it has to shut down, we’ve had a lot of fun and a lot of good eating,” said Florence Skinner.
Gardeners ran the space on church land. The gardeners covered the water bill and paid their own insurance.
The 40-plot garden had communal raspberries and rhubarb and was utilized by about 20 families.