A group of community-minded residents are hoping to breathe life into a neighbourhood park and turn it into a gathering place.
At the same time, they’re hoping to fill a need in the community.
The project – The Garden at Charstate – is intended to be Campbell River’s newest community garden, centred in the heart of Charstate Park in the Merecroft/McPhedran area.
Doug Denton-Howes, garden committee coordinator, said the area is identified in the city’s Sustainable Official Community Plan as a potential food security location, ideal for a community garden or orchard.
The concept has been a popular one among Campbell Riverites, with community garden plots being snapped up quickly at both the Laughing Willow Community Garden in Willow Point and the community garden in Campbellton.
“There’s a waitlist of probably over 30 people, when you look at all the gardens, that are waiting for spaces,” Denton-Howes said.
He said the garden would be a place for neighbours to “grow their own food, socialize, and develop a sense of community pride in that area.”
Charstate Park is the ideal location, he said, because of its size.
“The park is well over two acres and has a lot of greenspace and a community garden would allow for multi-use of the park,” Denton-Howes said. “Right now it’s one big open area.”
He said the garden plots will likely be built close to the park’s existing playground, with the potential to add an orchard and possibly a dog park down the road.
But for now, Denton-Howes said the committee is focused on developing the garden which, if a preliminary survey is any indication, is already gathering steam.
“Twelve people have indicated they would like to rent plots,” Denton-Howes said. “We need 13,000 square feet to complete the entire project.”
He said the plots would range in size, but the largest would be up to 100 square feet. The committee also intends to provide wheelchair accessible plots, with some doubly raised for those with mobility issues.
While the details still need to be worked out, Denton-Howes said the committee is looking to charge in the range of $30 to $45 for a plot, depending on the size.
He said the entire project will likely cost approximately $34,000, including all the labour, materials and fencing.
“Presently we have about $10,000 of in-kind donations and we’ve gotten at least one cash donation ready to come in,” Denton-Howes said.
The committee is also looking for some assistance from the city in providing water and hydro to the garden, as well as the necessary hook ups, and financial assistance equal to what the city provides to the Laughing Willow Community Garden.
“We do recognize it would come at a cost to the city. We recognize it’s a large investment,” Denton-Howes said Monday during a presentation to city council. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
Council was receptive to the idea and referred the issue to city staff to report back on potential costs.
Coun. Colleen Evans said she recognizes that “initiatives like this really do build community” while Mayor Andy Adams said community gardens in Campbell River have “been very successful” and “build a community within a community.”
The garden, if all goes according to plan, will be available to all residents on a first come, first serve basis and will be sited in a sunny area with room for potential expansion.
Greenways Land Trust has volunteered to hold the land use lease with the city which would be good for five years, with a five-year renewal option upon request.