The Soil of Generosity
By Kathryn Pankowski
Into every successful gardener’s life, there comes a moment when, often suddenly, there is Too Much of a Good Thing. The oregano has romped away, the zucchini has gone into overdrive, there is no time to make jam. What do you do when you have too much and the freezer is full?
Well, you can always give it away to your neighbours. In a former home we were regularly visited by a mysterious ‘zucchini bunny’, who left plastic bags of veg dangling from the back door knob when no one was looking. If you don’t want to resort to such extreme and devious measures, you can always put garden excess – even the prunings from herbs such as bay trees and rosemary – at your gate for passersby. Apples on offer at garden gates are a pretty common sight around James Bay in autumn.
If you have a regular supply of surplus food, you can also sell it. It’s now legal to open a mini-farmstand at your garden gate, though you will need to follow the regulations and get a business license. See more in Neighbourhood Garden News below.
Another option is to take your surplus to the James Bay Community Project Office at 547 Michigan Street. They will redistribute fresh produce to people who use their programs or incorporate it into the meals prepared in their kitchen. If you want to go this route, though, there are a couple of things to bear in mind. First, food must be dropped off at the front desk, Mon-Fri, 8-4. (Food left at the door after hours has to be binned due to health regulations.) Second, the project office is not set up as a full-scale food bank with extensive coolers and food storage areas, so they can only accept small quantities at one time - a grocery bag of produce is fine; a pick-up truck full is not.
If you have a fruit tree and don’t want to or can’t pick it yourself, you can sign up to have it picked by LifeCycles fruit tree project volunteers. For more information about how this program works, visit http://lifecyclesproject.ca/our-projects/fruit-tree-project/.
If you know of any other places in James Bay that accept home-grown produce, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list.
Neighbourhood Garden News
The South Park School PAC has completed their permaculture garden expansion. Stop by and have a look while school is out.
By the time you read this, the new part of the Pollinator Garden – the extension into Irving Park - will have had its formal opening. A big thanks to all the volunteers at New Horizons for creating such a beautiful public space for human and winged residents to enjoy.
The pollinator garden at the BC Legislature, designed by Marian Volkman of Mother Earth Gardens and Design, also opened in June. If you want to see it, it’s tucked away behind the hedges near the corner of Menzies and Superior Streets.
It’s great to see so many new boulevard gardens popping up this summer. There are also seven new raised beds on a narrow strip of private land (you can sneak a peek at them from Niagara Street, across from the end of Boyd) which I’m guessing are allotments for the residents of the apartment or condo behind. It’s always exciting to see allotment beds appear on condo and apartment grounds, since it takes a bit of the pressure off our public allotments, both of which have waiting lists.
If you’reinterested in selling your homegrown food and plants from your own mini-farmstand, you can find all the details of allowable size, placement, and products as well as how to get a business permit, in the City of Victoria’s handy new fact sheet Building and Operating a Food Stand at http://www.victoria.ca/assets/Departments/Parks~Rec~Culture/Parks/Documents/Growing~in~the~City/Building%20and%20Operating%20a%20Food%20Stand%20June%202017.pdf
Kathryn Pankowski is the James Bay Neighbourhood Association Neighbourhood Gardening Advocate: she can be reached at email@example.com. The JBNA would like to acknowledge the financial support of the City of Victoria for this initiative.