My FED Farm
The Urban Learning Garden
Food for People, Food for Pollinators, Food for Thought
The Urban Learning Garden (ULG) started as a seed of an idea: to create a beautiful, diverse garden in the heart of Downtown Victoria that celebrates food and sustainability in our city. Located in Victoria's downtown core, the space aims to promote a balanced relationship between society and nature through educational events, and community engagement.
Over the years the ULG has grown into its own as place for people in our city to connect with nature and one another. Now complete, the Urban Learning Garden contains a native plant garden under the glass ceilings of the Atrium, a pollinator garden, perennial herb garden, and annual vegetable garden for the public to engage with.
The Urban Learning Garden is an experiment in urban placemaking. The public nature of the space allows for continuous opportunities to engage with and inspire the people in our city. Whether it be teaching the value of local food production or reminding people of the joy of growing their own food, the Urban Learning Garden is a space for people to connect with food and environment that sustains us.
We describe the ULG as a “Multi-Garden Experiment” because we are trying something new. The heavily urbanized courtyard allows us to demonstrate what incorporating nature into urban environments can look like. By creating distinct gardens within the space, we hope to change people’s idea of what an urban downtown core can be. Incorporating nature into our city in these ways allows us to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change, as well as forge a new relationship between society and the environment.
Outside the doors of the Victoria Library’s Central Branch is the Native Plant Garden of the ULG. The purpose of this space is to display and educate people on the native plants of our region. Southern Vancouver Island is the home of an immense number of unique plant species with their own cultural and practical values. Destruction of wild habitat and the introduction of invasive species due to colonization has meant that many of these plants no longer thrive in their native habitat. The objective of this space is to remind us all of the unique value that native plants offer our ecosystem, and motivate efforts to return them to their former glory. Whether for a lunch time break, remote work, or moment of relaxation, this garden is a welcoming space for all to enjoy.
the native plant garden
Underneath the vines of the ULG’s Kiwi plants rests the Perennial Herb Garden. By using perennial plants that do not require starting from seed each year, this garden demonstrates how low-maintenance gardens are possible in urban spaces. This was the first garden in the courtyard to utilize Life Space Gardens’ beautiful hand-crafted planter boxes. We welcome people from the community to come by and harvest the herbs in this garden.
the perennial herb garden
In 2019 the Pollinator Garden was added to the ULG. This space, adjacent to Blanshard Street, is a home and food source for local pollinators like mason bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. By planting a diverse range of local pollinator-friendly plants, this garden supports pollinator health throughout the year thanks to its successive blooming window. This garden also contains nesting habitats for pollinators made from decomposing logs, rocks, and a bee house. With so many food crops relying on pollination from our local bees, insects, and birds, garden spaces like this are vital to supporting a sustainable and secure food system.
the pollinator garden
The most recent addition to the ULG, constructed in June of 2021, is the Annual Vegetable Garden. The aim of this garden is to engage with people in the community. We welcome people to come down and see what is growing, harvest when possible, and get inspired by the joy of growing food. This garden is a place to experiment with different crops, growing styles, and seasons. Because of this it changes regularly, so make sure you visit throughout the year to see what is happening!
the annual vegetable garden
an inclusive space
The Urban Learning Garden is a space for everyone in our community. We encourage you to connect with the plants and people that make up this beautiful space. Stay tuned for sustainable food workshops and events coming to the Urban Learning Garden soon!
The progress and ultimate completion of this project would not have been possible without the generous support of our partners, including Lifecycles Project Society, the Greater Victoria Public Library, the City of Victoria, the Province of British Columbia, Co-op Community Spaces and Vancity.