It all started with the seed of an idea: a beautiful, biodiverse garden in downtown Victoria, an outdoor classroom and a community space for all to enjoy. A place that celebrates food and sustainability in the heart of the Food Eco District.
FED has been dreaming about creating a space like this for a long time, and this year, with the help of some amazing partners and lots of support from our community, our vision is becoming a reality. Working with LifeCycles Project Society, we’re building an Urban Learning Garden in the courtyard of the Central Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL).
The space is perfect: a courtyard in the heart of downtown between Broughton, Blanshard & Courtney streets. Its proximity to the library – a much-used and much-loved branch – means the area is a high-traffic community hub where people go to learn. The Urban Learning Garden will grow the space into a regional centre for food education where anyone can learn about saving seeds, identifying native plants and their Indigenous uses, and growing food in urban spaces. The garden will host regular workshops, and interpretive signage will inform visitors about how and why to grow certain plants in our region. There will also be information about local wildlife, water conservation, Indigenous territories and culture, and soil health.
We are so excited to be working with LifeCycles to make this happen. As one of the oldest and most active food-focused non-profits in Victoria, LifeCycles cultivates community health by connecting people to the food they eat and the land it comes from. One of their projects is the Victoria Seed Library, a regionally adapted seed collection founded in partnership with GVPL and accessible to hobby and beginner gardeners. Plants from the Seed Library collection will be grown for demonstration throughout the Learning Garden.
This is a big project, and it will take us several years to get it done. We had our first work party earlier this month; with a team of hard-working volunteers we scrubbed and re-painted the cubical raised beds in the covered atrium and planted a Native Plant Garden. By 2020, the Urban Learning Garden will include:
A Native Plant Garden
A Perennial Food Garden with Companion Plants
An Indigenous Food & Medicinal Plant Garden
A Pollinator Garden
An Innovative Urban Agriculture Demo Space
A Children’s Garden
Thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of our supporters including the Greater Victoria Public Library, The City of Victoria, the Province of British Columbia, and Co-op Community Spaces, this big idea has found the nourishment it needs to take root. An extra special thank you to those who took the time to vote for the Learning Garden during the City of Victoria’s Participatory Budgeting Process! Because of you, this project is coming to fruition.