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Guerilla Gardening Portrait

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Post by:  Suzanne Heron  

Are we not enjoying an incredible spring?! It makes me think of  one of my personal favourite paintings from last year – the Haultain Common. I thought it might be time to share another place that people love, that has a great story . . .

​The Haultain Common was created in 2007 by “guerilla gardeners” Rainey & Margot, who dug up the verge between the sidewalk & street in front of their house on Haultain St, planted vegetables, and offered them freely to any who pass by. A few eyebrows went up on City Council. The women kept planting, mulching, harvesting, with the help of neighbour kids and adults, and leaving chalk messages on the sidewalk about what was ready to pick.

Rainey & Margot noticed that often people would be reluctant to take if they hadn’t first given themselves. So, “we’d just give them some tomatoes or potatoes and encourage them to come by and harvest in future.” So people did. And other edible gardens started to appear on other verges and in backyards, and harvest parties, and people talking to each other, and gosh, community building.

Join the counter-revolution

In 2014, largely due to the efforts of fellow activist Mike Large, Victoria City Council unanimously voted to adopt the Proposed Interim Boulevard Gardening Guidelines, created by Mike in consultation with the Vancouver Guidelines & several long-time boulevard gardeners in Victoria.

Of course a party was held in Fernwood to celebrate yet another step towards zero-mile, picked-same-day, sustainable food independence. And now the Common is a lovely permaculture “food forest”, with artichokes, goji berries & wasabi, in addition to more traditional fare. Check it out – right beside the Local General Store at Haultain Corner. And perhaps that will inspire you to tackle your own verge . . .

If you have a story of a place you love, I’d love to hear it . . . shoot me an email and I will call you. Or put a photo on the Blue Heron Art Enterprises Facebook page!

If you’d like to see more artwork, all my pieces have moved from Fairfield Gonzales to the James Bay Community Project, 547 Michigan St, in the health centre, where they are brightening people’s days. And I am celebrating getting all calendars to the printer, they should be out around the May long weekend. Have a lovely spring!

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