Community gardens growing at record pace across the city

2011 was a record year for new community gardens in Vancouver, with the City announcing that 405 new garden plots were created in Vancouver last year, putting the City well on its way to achieving 5,000 garden plots by 2020.

The City of Vancouver, together with Evergreen and students from Simon Fraser Elementary School, today announced plans to create 11 new garden plots in the City Hall community garden, due in part to the growing wait list.

“As part of our efforts to become the world’s greenest city, we have a goal of 5,000 garden plots in Vancouver by 2020,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We’re seeing enormous demand for garden plots across the city, with growing waitlists, increasing interest from community groups, and neighbourhoods seeking out new opportunities for local food. It's great to see that 2011 was our best year yet.

“I’m pleased we’re partnering with Evergreen to expand the City Hall garden, and look forward to seeing many more garden plots spring up in neighbourhoods throughout Vancouver in the years to come.”

Mayor Robertson provided an update on Vancouver’s work to increase access to community gardens. Some of the information released today included:

  • Vancouver has added 995 new plots over the past three years, including 405 in 2011, the highest ever for one year;
  • With a goal of reaching 5,000 garden plots by 2020, there are currently 3,700 in Vancouver; Of the cities that keep track of the overall number of gardens, Vancouver is ahead of the curve: with 85 community gardens in Vancouver, we exceed Seattle (76) and Portland (43);
  • Local food production got a boost from the City’s approval last year of growing food in traffic circles through the Greenstreets program – which has resulted in 500 additional garden plots.

The City Hall community garden, which currently has 36 plots, is operated in partnership with Evergreen. The garden includes plots that are wheelchair accessible, designated for schools and the Mt Pleasant Neighbourhood House, as well as a plot dedicated to the cultivation of native edible and medicinal plants.

“We’re very pleased to be expanding the City Hall community garden, given we have a waiting list of over 36 people,” said Helen Beynon, Community Development Coordinator with Evergreen. “This garden has provided over 370 community members and volunteers an opportunity to grow and learn about planting, stewardship and harvesting crops, and has brought together people of all ages in the shared goal of producing more local food.”

The City of Vancouver currently has 3,700 individual plots in 85 gardens located on private, public and park land across the city. As well, over 500 boulevard garden plots are registered through the Green Streets program. By comparison, Seattle has 76 gardens and Portland has 43. In Vancouver, demand is high for community garden plots, with many gardens maintaining lengthy wait lists.

The City’s Food Strategy, currently in development, recognizes that locally grown and produces food is crucial to the sustainability of our city and vibrancy of our neighbourhoods.