Community Gardens Have Radical Potential in Victoria

As a city that is internationally renowned for its gardens, it does come as a surprise that the majority of our produce in Victoria is not grown near home. With a subtropical climate and a population that is so clearly passionate about gardens, what gives?

It seems that almost everywhere you turn in Victoria there are prolific displays of flowers, shrubs and every greenery available. However, popping up amongst the thoughtfully considered displays lining manicured lawns, there is a “new” garden sprouting. In a recent trend that is really more a return to the natural ways of life, home owners are choosing to turn their boulevard spaces or even yards into productive vegetable gardens. These are often open for neighbours to give and take, bringing back the days of front porches and casual conversations. In a greatly humbling way, growing food for yourself and your community is about as down to earth as it gets.

The City of Victoria is mostly positive when it comes to support for urban farming. Through its work with local organizations, city hall has an extensive list of projects and future plans to encourage growth in the city. By revamping by-laws, opening city land, providing grants and offering extensive educational guides, they are making bold statements about their dream of sustainable urban agriculture. Full details regarding boulevard gardening and other city ventures are available on the city’s website (

There are two different types of “community” gardens and it is important to understand the differences between them before harvesting the fruits of someone else’s labour:


  1. “Commons Gardens” are open for all to harvest and enjoy, whether you help grow it or not. They are usually tended by a small group of volunteers who are usually happy to share their knowledge in exchange for helping hands.
  2. “Allotment Gardens” are plots that are rented by the season or year. They are private spaces and are not open to the public, although some of these have a common area for extra goodies that are up for grabs.


On a sunny May afternoon I took myself on a tour around some of the commons gardens in the Southern Victoria districts. Although a couple were looking a bit worse for wear, most were teeming with life, love and food, being surged ahead by dedicated hands and hearts.

Haultain Commons

Haultain Commons

As I wandered through the Haultain Commons, I happened across Mike Large, local lawyer and passionate boulevard gardener. On his website Street Greens (, he explains perfectly why these gardens are a step in the right direction. “At a time when climate change is growing more difficult to ignore and fossil fuels are growing more difficult to mine, tending so much grass grows more difficult to justify. People run lawn mowers and weed whackers and leaf blowers up and down the boulevards, burning fuel, belching CO2, wasting time […] Boulevards offer us public space to grow local food, diverse ways to improve degraded landscapes, and pleasant paths to build stronger communities.”

These gardens are so much more than just a place to grow food. They offer a reprieve from our lives, a chance to look away from our screens and reconnect with not only ourselves but also with our communities. Whether providing nourishment to a struggling family, dirt therapy to the office worker or knowledge to the budding gardener, these spaces are an essential addition to our city.

There are many avenues to take if you would like to get your hands dirty. If you’re seeking boulevard space, the Victoria Compost Education Centre can help you find some in need of love. Or, if you would like to volunteer with a specific garden there are usually signs listing the group responsible for the upkeep. The Lifecycles Urban Agriculture Hub has a thorough list of community gardens around the city, while the CRD Community Green Map has a user-friendly map listing gardens, markets and the like.

I hope this encourages you to go meet your neighbourhood and get growing! Remember, we all have a green thumb in us, sometimes it just needs a little guiding from friends.

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