How do you use Spring Ridge Commons?
I coordinate activities and am one of the primary stewards of Spring Ridge Commons. I also have co-hosted with Sean Newton and support Bee in the Garden happening every Sunday afternoon from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. At Bee in the Garden, it is both an opportunity to enjoy the garden (sit and talk with others), have tea made from herbs and plants from the garden and also help out in the garden. From time to time, we have music in the garden. People playing a keyboard or guitar and singing.
Bee in the Garden:
More info: http://springridge.rd123.ca/?p=894
As one of the primary stewards I help maintain the garden by cutting back old plant growth, grass… , sheet mulching, applying wood chips or leaf mulch, etc..
Here I am in the garden at Spring Ridge Commons (1) This picture was taken at the Global Work Party: 10/10/10 day of climate action on Oct 10, 2010. (2) This picture was taken by Amy Zidulka when we met at Spring Ridge Commons on August 4, 2015.
As the coordinator of this garden, I’ve arranged for groups (university students, kids, community members) to have a hands-on volunteer work experience/learning opportunities at Spring Ridge Commons and coordinate Special Events in the garden.
Volunteer Work Experience / Learning Opportunities at Spring Ridge Commons:
Pictured above: (1) 28 UVic Geography Student Have a Hands-On Work Experience in the Commons, (2) Greater Victoria Green Team Work Party at Spring Ridge Commons, (3) Introduction to Home-Scale Permaculture with Elaine Codling and (4) Perennials, Wild + Cultivated in City Scapes with Roger Foucher (5) UVic Summer Camp participant painting rocks in the Commons.
Special Events in the Commons:
Pictured Above (1) Mayor Dean Fortin planting a pear tree with George Jay student on National Tree Day Celebration in the Commons. (2) Frank Smoke smudging the Commons at Global Earth Day Event at Spring Ridge Commons.
What does Spring Ridge Commons bring to you?
I love that Spring Ridge Commons is an open freely accessable community green space and am amazed at the diversity of people who come to the Commons. This garden has people visiting from all over the city, from other communities on Vancouver Island, from other parts of Canada and from other parts of the world. The reasons that they come are also varied – from picking plums, figs and other berries/herbs in the commons, to spending quality time with their children in the Commons, to seeing what one can learn and apply to their own yard / food forest, to just simply enjoy being in nature.
Spring Ridge Commons is a very special place in that people are on equal footing in this garden. I really like what Matthew Kemshaw shared in his youtube video “Springridge Learning” (scroll down for the video) — “The environment of the Spring Ridge Commons allows people from an astounding diversity of backgrounds to feel at ease and to communicate both between themselves and with others on this site. Through this shared comfort, people learn about food, about plants and more importantly about each other and themselves.”
What are your concerns about Spring Ridge Commons?
The Common has suffered from political struggles, problems of limited funding and volunteer help plus maintaining it as a beautiful, safe, and open space for all to use and enjoy has proved challenging at times. There is a need to look at strategies for ensuring the Commons is sustainable ( long-term health and vitality of the commons ). Without this focus, the Commons could find itself hitting rough patches in its up-keeping. With these lapses, comes the risks of people hanging out in the Commons drug-dealing, hiding /storing things in the Commons, camping, creating disturbances, etc. causing neighbours and others to wanting the Commons to morph in to something other than an open space community urban food forest (fenced in, market garden?, etc.). We could lose this garden and that would be very sad and heart-breaking.
With regard to strategies for ensuring that the Commons is sustainable and well-maintained, there is a lot that can be done – Grants that can be applied for (There is also the City of Victoria Grant that the Fernwood NRG will receive and ear-marked for the management of Spring Ridge Commons), Volunteers to maintain the Commons can be sought in a variety of ways (Volunteer Victoria, Community Service Hours (UVic, High Schools, Probation Offices, etc.), UVic Environmental Student, Restoration of Natural Resources students and groups, Greater Victoria Green Team, etc. ). There is also a need for easy ways that people who visit Spring Ridge Commons to give back to the garden. (Perhaps a chalk board in the garden, encouraging people to spend a bit of time picking up garbage or weeding for 10 minutes, etc.)
I’m also concerned with the biodiversity of plants in the Commons. With sheet-mulching, conversion of beds to pathways, drought, etc. there are less variety of plants in the garden than in past. It would be good to increase the number of drought-tolerant, native, food bearing and perennial pollinator-friendly plants in the Commons and also ensure that they are well-placed and well-labelled.
I am also concerned about the trees in the Commons. In the recent past, a person was hired by the Fernwood NRG to maintain the Commons. Unfortunately this person did not apply skill in the pruning of trees and pruned a number of the trees in the Commons deeply causing people visiting the Commons a lot of sadness, grief and anger at what had been done. With the popularity of figs, plums, mulberries, etc. in the Commons, there is also need to look at the safe harvesting of these fruits in a fair equitable manner. With the drought conditions and tree succession in the Commons, there is also a need to look at the health of the trees and making decisions on tree replacement, etc.
- What would be lost if it were not here?
Spring Ridge Commons is a garden of possibilities – a very unique community open space where people can be in nature within a urban setting, for families to bring their children to enjoy the space, for people to harvest figs, plum, goumi berries, medlars, mulberries, etc , for people to play their musical instruments, for people to express their creativity in a number of different ways, etc. This would all be lost if Spring Ridge Commons were fenced and converted to some other use.
- The future. In your ideal future, what would be the same and what would be different about Spring Ridge Commons?
Five years in the future I would like to see Spring Ridge Commons continuing to thrive as a community open space food forest / permaculture garden with a diversity of plants and trees – all labelled and well-maintained.
I would like it to be a vibrant community space where people feel free to create art, play their musical instruments (keyboards , guitars, recorders, flutes), enjoy the garden with their family and with others or by themselves (reading, writing, doing tai chi / qi gong, etc) learn from each other and also help out to ensure that the Commons remains a place where everyone can enjoy being in.
It is important that the Commons is well-maintained – that there are funds directed towards this – invest in qualified experienced passionate people for the stewarding the Commons vs. available monies being spent on water and on taking garbage / plant debris off-site.
Children are a vital part of this garden. There are at least three pre-school close by and after-school programs / summer camps so it would be great to find ways to involve kids in a variety of different ways – helping to maintain this garden (watering, placing chip on pathways, using a small sickle to cut down grass / old plant growth, etc.), painting rocks, doing art work with sidewalk chalk on Stelly Street by the Commons and in the Commons, playing in the Commons, and looking a nature-scaping (stumps that kids can play/climb on or use in creative ways). A nature day care / pre-school program for kids 3 to 5 years old could also be explored – allowing kids to explore and experience Spring Ridge Commons as an outdoor classroom.
I would like the organizational structure to be reconfigured so that there is a Friends of Spring Ridge Commons Non-Profit Society who will oversee this community urban food forest/permaculture garden (hire/supervise an experienced /knowledgeable Food Forest Manager and Caretaker and handle other things such as fundraising, grants, etc. with the support of partnering organizations (i.e. LifeCycles, City of Victoria Parks, Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT), Compost Education Centre, Fernwood Community Association (FCA), Fernwood NRG, University of Victoria Restoration of Natural Systems, Society of Living Illicit Drug Users (SOLID) plus any other organizations which share a similar vision for the garden. Currently and in the past, the organizational structure is reflected: http://springridge.rd123.ca/?page_id=88