When residents of an Olympic Village condo decided to turn private plots into a community space, their gardening project turned into something more.
By Tyee Bridge
Photos Claudette Caracedo
Six volunteers formed a Garden Committee to organize the transformation of the James rooftop patio into a working garden—from pulling out ornamental plants and selling them on Craigslist to buying seeds and rebuilding the soil. “It was pretty much an immediate success, a hit with a lot of people,” recalls Cooke. “And it went beyond gardening to really growing the social aspect of the building. People got to know each other, which was great to see, and we expanded from there.”
In the past four years, grant monies from Vancouver Foundation and the City of Vancouver have helped secure an irrigation system and an industrial composter that can turn plant matter into soil in two weeks. The garden has grown to take over more and more of the rooftop space. It now comprises 16 beds and hundreds of square feet. Along with herbs, vegetables and huge amounts of salad greens, the patio produces apples, plums, tayberries and more.
“Pretty much everything you can think of grows here,” says Cooke. But the abundance of produce is only the most obvious payout. Weekend garden gatherings of about 30 residents have been happening every two to three weeks from spring to fall for years now, and the community roots have grown beyond planting and weeding.