Guest Blog: Welcome to ReWood
Have you heard of ReWood? Started by previous FED volunteers Stuart and Gerald, this volunteer-led initiative upcycles lumber from building sites into durable and strong planter boxes, potting benches, and more for gardens around Victoria! Check out this guest blog post from Stuart and Gerald to learn more.
Two challenges, one solution
FED Urban Agriculture is supporting community gardens around the Greater Victoria region. As part of this effort, we undertook a research project to determine what makes community gardens successful. Our “Community Garden Guide”, published in 2021, highlighted many challenges confronting the establishment of community gardens. Among the most important was the ability to design, fund and implement solid common infrastructure – like garden boxes, compost bins and fencing. Working with the new Central Saanich Community Garden (CSCG), we found that wood costs alone were estimated at roughly 25% of the build budget.
At the same time, we were watching more and more residential properties being demolished in our neighbourhoods. Recent data from the Capital Regional District (CRD) estimates construction, renovation, and demolition waste accounts for over a third of waste destined for CRD landfills. Wood product accounts for 25% of total landfill-destined waste – and growing! Local governments are trying to address this challenge through measures aimed at reducing the flow – from the CRD’s per capita waste reduction targets to the City of Victoria’s recent by-law charging demolition contractors a $19,500 permit fee refundable if a per site waste salvaging target is met.
While these regulatory measures look good on paper, we wondered how we could help on the ground. We put these two challenges together and the result is ReWood. As a volunteer-led social enterprise, ReWood aims to give old wood a second life by liberating lumber from building sites before it is transferred to the landfill. We have assembled a small but mighty volunteer team with the time, skills and energy needed to design and custom-build strong, durable wooden infrastructure products for use in community gardens, small urban farms, nurseries, and related social enterprises.
Not willing to rest on theory, we put our ideas to the test in helping build the CSCG earlier this year. Working with the CRD and individual contractors, we salvaged wood from two demolition projects – a residential property in Oak Bay and a CRD Community Housing Co-op in Fernwood. We were able to take the strong, seasoned material we rescued and refurbish it for use in building garden boxes and compost bins designed by our volunteer team. Instead of heading to the Hartland dump, this wood was directed northwards to Brentwood Bay where it now forms part of every one of the garden boxes and compost bins in use at the CSCG.
In July, we told our story about turning a teardown into a garden in a Op Ed published in the Times Colonist. This article stimulated a lot of interest in what we were up to and resulted in ReWood being awarded a grant from the CRD Rethink Waste program to support our work.
ReWood at work
ReWood is now at work with several contractors, gardens, and urban farms around town, building accessing re-usable wood and repurposing it into custom-built garden boxes, compost bins, and display tables. We plan to feature our projects and volunteer teams in future blog posts – so stay tuned.
Get informed, get involved
In the meantime, if you would like more information about donating salvaged wood, becoming a ReWood volunteer, or sourcing reclaimed wood for your community garden or urban farm, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.