Collaborative Garden

The Kitsilano Community Centre Collab Garden sprouted in June 2014 and is a beautiful green space to educate and inspire community through collaborative learning, growing and sharing.

The garden cascades along the south wall of the rink, between the sidewalk along Larch and the parking lot. It includes a shady zone near Larch Street where informal seating invites visitors to linger, seven raised beds on three different levels that produce flowers, herbs, and vegetables, and three rocky slopes and the area along the rink wall that grow herbs, pollinator-friendly flowers and fruit-bearing shrubs and trees, all separated by wood chip paths.

The garden is as much about growing community and individuals as it is about growing plants. Anyone is welcome use the informal seating area to chat with others, greet the volunteers who maintain the garden, or appreciate the miracles of nature in quiet contemplation. You may want to bring a camera, sketch book or note pad in case the garden inspires your creativity.

If you would like to participate in a more hands-on way, here are the answers to questions people who considering it often ask.

 

What are the potential rewards of joining the Kitsilano CC Collaborative Garden group?
  • Become part of an intergenerational community of people who love to garden
  • Build relationships as you work together to make good things happen
  • Know that you are making a public open space more beautiful, inspiring, and educational
  • Enjoy social contact with other Centre users, staff, and neighbours
  • Get fresh air, gentle exercise and chances to get your hands in the earth
  • Learn about gardening in an ecologically-friendly, sustainable way
  • Know that others will tend the garden when you need to be away
  • Take home tastes of fresh, organic produce as it ripens over the season
How much time will it require?
Each person finds a balance that works. If you have less than an average of an hour per week to contribute, you risk feeling left out. If you do too much, you risk burning out. Many come at least once a week to tend and help the garden develop over time. Many attend the work bees scheduled when several tasks need to be done. Most come to the planning meetings. A few enjoy all of these activities and cheerfully donate several hours per week. Caution: the garden is seductive. You may fall in love with it.
When are the meetings and work bees?
The planning meetings are typically on Tuesday evening during the first week of the month. The work bees usually happen during the day on weekends and are scheduled when the garden needs specific attention, the most people can come, and when the forecast predicts suitable weather.
What do the gardeners do?
The gardeners plan the activities for each year, what special projects to take on, the goals for each area (for example, backdrop for conversation, attract pollinators, provide visual interest, grow food), what to plant in each area and how to divide up the tasks.
The tasks in the areas that can be planted include: prepare the soil, plant seeds or seedlings, thin the plants, water (daily when the weather is the hottest and driest), weed, fertilize, trim, deal with pests and plant diseases in environmentally-friendly ways, harvest the produce, and remove spent plant material.
The gardeners also weed, replenish chips and clear debris as needed in the seating area and paths.
What else do the gardeners do?
  • Engage in friendly conversation with people who have questions about the garden or about becoming part of the group
  • Make decisions collaboratively at meetings and work bees
  • Seek and share ideas about how to make the garden more productive
  • Share responsibility for the group’s functioning through tasks such as organizing refreshments, taking minutes, leading discussion, initiating small work parties, and ironing out misunderstandings.
  • Assist with garden-related workshops the Centre offers
  • Promote the garden at events
  • Integrate new gardeners into the group
  • Accommodate each other’s schedules and preferences as much as feasible
What does it cost to become a gardener with Kitsilano CC Collaborative Garden?
This is a free activity. The Vancouver Park Board provides the space and water. The Kitsilano Community Centre Association provides an operating budget. The gardeners contribute time and energy to maintain the garden and the healthy functioning of the group and to build relationships with the broader community.
Is training provided?

Informally, yes. Gardeners learn by observing, comparing notes, asking questions, and trading interesting articles found on-line or at the library. New members gradually feel confident and start to mentor others. The Centre occasionally offers workshops on topics that interest the gardeners and broader community.

Is everyone welcome to join?

Yes, the garden gardening group welcomes diversity. As examples:

  • The gardeners range in income. Economic circumstances are not a barrier.
  • Some live alone. Others live in families of various sizes and types.
  • Gardening experience varies. None of the current gardeners has formal training in horticulture. For many, this is the first time they have taken responsibility for a garden or tended one with so much diversity of plant life (annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees – some native to British Columbia, some imported).
  • There is no age limit. The current youngest gardener is four. His mother brings him to help so he will learn where food comes from. The oldest members do not make a big deal about their ages because gardening keeps them young at heart.
What is the history of the group?
The garden was built in 2014 with much vision and volunteer effort by the original founders to create “A Beautiful Green Space to Educate and Inspire Community through Collaborative Learning, Growing and Sharing.” The membership evolves. A few new people have joined each year and most of the original members are taking a less active role to pursue other interests. How the group works to “educate and inspire community” also evolves as each new participant brings different ideas, skills, and interests.
How do I get more information?
Ask that a knowledgeable person get in touch with you by e-mailing ac.re1544824678vuocn1544824678av@cc1544824678onali1544824678stik1544824678 with “Collaborative Garden” in the subject line or leave at note with your name and telephone number with the front desk at the Centre.
How do I become a member of the gardening program?
Check the current program guide under “Adult General Interest” programming or email ac.re1544824678vuocn1544824678av@cc1544824678stik1544824678 with “Collaborative Garden” to find out how to register.

Is there a waiting list?
The collaborative garden can accommodate 15 gardeners per session. If you register after the maximum has been reached for a particular session, you will be placed on a waiting list. People on the wait list will receive an invitation to volunteer with the staff garden coordinator in the garden at the south entrance until a space becomes available in the collaborative garden.

Contact the Garden Coordinator - Noah Thrush if you wish to be involved!

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