Calls to re-open Work Point community garden after sudden closure

Calls to re-open Work Point community garden after sudden closure
WatchCommunity gardens are an essential service during COVID but the Work Point Garden for military families is closed. Tess van Straaten reports.  

The closest Ryefield Ford can get to his vegetable plot at CFB Esquimalt’s Work Point community garden is to stand outside the fence.

“I look at my garlic from outside the fence just to make sure it’s not dying,” Ford says. “Garlic’s pretty hardy but it’s going to need some water pretty soon.”

The huge community garden for base members and their families was abruptly closed a few weeks ago.

“I was sad,” Ford says. “This is a really important place for me and my wife and a lot of people in this community. We’re here all the time gardening and getting vegetables.”

The closure — a result of non-essential base operations being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic — affects around 70 garden club members.

“I was totally shocked,” says Natalie Fuhr-Salvator. “It was closed without warning. It was just like okay, everybody has to leave. They couldn’t even get their plants!”

Fuhr-Salvator has her own garden, which she’s now letting close friends from the base use, as she advocates for the Work Point Garden to be re-opened.

“I feel terrible,” Fuhr-Salvatore says. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic and gardening is so therapeutic and so beneficial for your mental health and not only that, you’re feeding their family with what you’re growing.”

No one from CFB Esquimalt was available for an interview but they told CHEK News their priority is keeping people safe.

Shared tools at the garden are a concern and they said there’s no way for them to make sure gardeners are social distancing.But with large plots that are each 250 square feet or 23 metres in size, gardeners say there’s more than enough space.

And they say there are other ways to keep people safe — from having members bring their own tools to setting up sanitation stations.

“Community gardens have been deemed an essential service,” Ford says. “It’s really important that this gets re-activated and is seen for the essential service it is.”

As for the plantings stuck behind the fence, the base says members can bring requests for access to Work Point Garden Club so they can remove them.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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