INTRODUCTION

The Riley Park Community Garden Project is a story of opportunities. An opportunity to address the needs of the community and an opportunity to both strengthen our connections and build new connections to our neighbourhood. For our garden project, we aim to address the issue of food security and community involvement.

From Selina Pope of the Garden Planning team and Seed to Sky Garden Club President, 

 
 
Every inch of permeable soil is an essential and valuable part of the rapidly shrinking urban biomass that has to sustain us all and generations to come. This project is important to ensure that all of Riley Park remains ‘green’ and accessible to our local community in support of edible landscaping efforts to increase local food assets and ensuring a sustainable urban future in keeping with the city’s positive ecological footprint.

Such enhanced community gardens, [as our own], serve both the interests of local garden groups and those of the larger gardening community, especially the substantial number of young families in our neighbourhood desperately eager to grow their own organic produce, and the planned increased densification of the neighbourhood with the pending Little Mountain development.
 

From Joanne MacKinnon, LMRP Neighourhood Food Network Coordinator

 
 
We need to honour and respect our history, preserve our legacy in a public space designated a Community Garden.  
We need a holistic view of our food assets: where we grow food now and where can we grow food.  We need to respect the land.
We need community engagement.   
We need to ensure [we have a] green space, [preserve our] nature and [increase our] food assets.
 

At the same time, as communities grow larger, our human relation between neighbours and community members will become farther apart, potentially leading to a scattered community. To bring the community together, rather than farther away, the garden will aim to bring its members closer through using the Garden space as an area for education and community events.

GARDEN PHILOSOPHY

 

Our garden is envisioned to create community space and social cohesion through participation, education, and events. We promote food security by supporting neighbourhood organizations and charities with 100% of the food grown by our volunteers. The garden project responds to a community need for a collective public space where people can engage in co-creation, feel a sense of belonging and ownership, and increase networks. Long term sustainability depends on the development of social capital and the intention to grow produce that may be given back to the community. The garden will allow our vision to be implemented by:  

  • creating a hub for discussion, ensuring that the garden green space is community-based, both in theory and practice;
  • using public spaces for skills development;  
  • creating discussion space where community members leverage collective expertise and local resources; and
  • supporting food literacy education.
 

From Selina Pope of the Garden Planning team & Seed to Sky Garden Club President ,

 
 
When residents become active in their neighbourhoods, communities are strengthened from the ground up. Riley Park is a valuable local neighbourhood community asset with the potential to become an important venue for education...
 

From Art Bomke Associate Professor Emeritus
UBC Land & Food Systems,

Support for this project will facilitate future contributions by community members to ground us in our history, better understand local food security issues and bring us together in activities around food, recreation and culture.
This project is an opportunity to connect the natural and human history of Riley Park and our community and to build a foundation for making the Park an important resource for future recreational, educational and cultural activities. To draw on the experience of the UBC Farm, this is a small area of land and “Nothing does only one thing.”
The park will provide...opportunities for Little Mountain Neighbourhood House and the Riley Park Hillcrest Community Association… Our rapidly growing community needs...green space for children to play, picnics and simple relaxation. 
[At the same time, the space will be characterized by] a variety of plantings that can contribute to biodiversity in the landscape and provide [for] both active and passive educational opportunities.
Illustration by Varouj Gumuchian

Illustration by Varouj Gumuchian

Through the garden, it is the volunteer's hope to address some of our community’s challenges while bringing each and everyone of us closer together. 

GARDEN PLAN

Our food forest permaculture garden will  respect the land while increasing our collective food security and food sovereignty.  Produce grown is given to the food programs serving those in need in our community; to support our food literacy activity; and then for community food celebrations.  The community has told us that they want a garden based on commons design principles guided by the eight design principles for sustainable management of Common Pool Resources, developed by Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom. 

Background

The demolishment of the late Riley Park Community Centre in 2012 foresaw a rising need for an alternative community gathering point.  As such, the approval of Vancouver Parks Board to proceed with the development of a community garden at Riley Park on the corner of 30th and Ontario received many positive recognitions from the local community.   We gathered a group of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers to work on the creation of the community garden, which is now known as the “Riley Park Community Garden.”

Beyond its immediate function as an inclusive gathering point to foster the sense of community in the neighbourhood, ultimately we want the community garden to reflect our core visions to improve food security, ecological sustainability and community development. 

The community garden encompasses an area of 1065m2, spanning the width of Riley Park along East 30th Street, extending approximately 30m along Ontario Street and is bounded on the South.  The dimensions of the garden are roughly 50m from East to West and 30m from North to South.  We will cater to the community’s various needs and interests.  Our permaculture design food forest will include raised beds for accessible gardening, herb garden, an orchard, a grapezeebo (native bee hotel) and a seating/picnic/workshop zone that serves as a community gathering spot. 

The design team consisted of community members with diverse experience such as horticulture, landscape architecture, art, and soil science.  Ideas and suggestions were open to a larger group of interested community members.

 
 

The key features of the garden are the different modules that will honour our legacy, history and traditions.  The garden will promote local food production and food security, and embed educational and ecological sustainability into its' future development.   In addition to the essential food beds and accessible beds, other potential modules may include a therapeutic garden, artist-run bed, indigenous garden, vertical beds and ethnic-multicultural garden.