Growing Sager

Growing Sager

By Kathryn Pankowski
Photo by Kathryn Pankowski

And rosemarier. Also, thymier. Yes, there’s a plot afoot to make James Bay a little more herb-filled.

We already have a pick-your-own herb garden at Fisherman’s Wharf Park, maintained by the city, and it is an excellent thing. But James Bay is a big place: it’s a bit off-putting, when all you want is a few fresh sage leaves, to have to go on a 40-minute walk.

So why not have small open-pick herb beds scattered through the neighbourhood, so that no one is more than a few blocks away from fresh herby goodness?

We’ve been mulling this over for a while, and think it would offer some real benefits. Most James Bay households consist of only one or two people, yet the only way you can buy ‘fresh’ herbs is in clamshell packs. Being able to pick your own lets you take only as much as you need that day, and cuts food waste and eliminates the need for plastic packaging and for shipping. Many herbs are also great pollinator-support plants. And the price Is right.

It’s also quite a doable project. Herbs don’t take up a lot of space, so we ought to be able to find enough little spots to tuck these beds in. And most herbs are tough enough to carry on for a few weeks if everyone tending them decides to go on holiday at the same time.

Where can we put these little herb beds? Real estate in James Bay is always in short supply, but we’ve identified one possibility for a pilot project: an existing bed in the Lewis St Parkette.

This bed was, according to neighbours, earmarked for food production in the last park plan but was never officially designated a community garden. Technically, the city was supposed to maintain it. What’s really happened over the years is that it’s been looked after off and on by various neighbours.

The thought is that we could take it through the process of becoming an official community garden, looked after by residents, accommodate anyone who is already gardening in it, and use part of it as an open-pick herb bed to serve the surrounding neighbours.

If you’ve been tending this bed, please get in touch. We already know who planted the kale and who pulled out the bindweed this spring, but if there are more guerilla gardeners out there using this bed, please get in touch because we don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun.

If you live nearby and would like to help on this project, also please get in touch at the email below.

And everyone, please be patient. To turn this bed into a community garden, we have to go through a process designed for much bigger projects. An expression of interest. A plan. Consults with the neighbours. A revised plan. Consult with parks. Approval by city council. You get the idea. Even if all goes well, we won’t see more sageness until 2019. At least not the plant sort. There’s always hope for the other kind.

Neighbourhood Garden News

The fall plant swap on September 8 went with a swing: lots of people, lots of plants, lots of trading as well as selling, and the rain held off. Thanks to all the folks who turned up, to the volunteers who made it all happen, and to Discovery Coffee for the coffee and doughnuts. We’ll definitely be doing this again next fall, as well as in May.

A new learning garden opened at the end of September outside the Central Branch, GVPL, and, although it’s not in James Bay, will provide a useful resource for James Bay gardeners. A joint project of LifeCycles and the Food Eco-District, it will be a demonstration and training garden, as well as a place to grow out and save seeds for the Victoria Seed Library. Stop by and have a look!

Kathryn Pankowski is the James Bay Neighbourhood Association Neighbourhood Gardening Advocate: she can be reached at The JBNA would like to acknowledge the financial support of the City of Victoria for this initiative.

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