‘People burn out and give up’: three-year waiting list for many Victoria community gardens

'People burn out and give up': three-year waiting list for many Victoria community gardens

WATCH: With the arrival of sunny weather and summer quickly approaching, community gardens are thriving so much that it’s becoming a problem. Aaron Guillen tells us why. 

Whether she’s digging in her plot, watering her plants, or talking with fellow gardeners, Christina Mitchell loves being at the James Bay Garden.

She’s not alone. Dozens of other would-be gardeners are waiting for a plot of their own.

“We have a long waiting list of 62 people,” says Christina Mitchell, Montreal Street Garden chair.

“That’s about a three to four-year waiting list.”

Mitchell got three more applications in the past week.

The Montreal Street Garden isn’t the only one in Victoria.

There are 50 people waiting for an opening in Burnside, 20 people for Yates Street, and another 20 in Vic West.

Without enough space many gardeners have turned to boulevards like these.

But some say the city should be digging in more to help those with a green thumb.

“It’s frustrating to see that there’s a lot of grass that isn’t being used right now in the City of Victoria,” says Matthew Kemshaw, executive director of LifeCycles Project Society, a local non-profit.

“We could be growing more interesting things on that land.”

In 2006, LifeCycles started a program that brought together people looking to garden with those willing to share their yards, called Sharing Backyards.

The program was so successful it expanded to 58 cities across North America.

But in 2013, it ended in Victoria due to lack of funding.

Currently, the city has made an inventory of land with community garden potential.

Those interested in starting a garden can apply online.

But Kemshaw says green thumbs have to jump through too many hoops before they can see the fruits of their labour.

“They [groups of gardeners] end up spending three years trying to get there and they still have another couple years before they’re able to start planting,” says Kemshaw.

“People burn out and give up.”

For now, other than sitting on a waiting list, there’s no other way to get a plot.

But gardeners say the wait is worth it.

“All I can say is I’ve been there so I know the feeling,” says Mitchell.

“You’re patience will be rewarded.”

Aaron GuillenAaron Guillen

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