Community garden at Waterview Apartments in Victoria, BC, for formerly homeless and at risk residents
Waterview Community Garden Project
Report to Investors Group, Victoria Branch
Pacifica Housing Advisory Association
Report compiled by David Stott, Project Coordinator
December 14, 2010
The following report outlines the progress of the Waterview Community Garden Project, which took place between February and November, 2010. The project was dedicated to the creation of a community garden at Waterview Apartments in Victoria, a 49 unit residence whose tenants are formerly homeless and at risk Victoria residents.
What the project achieved
A total of 12 tenants began taking part in Waterview community garden project in February of this year. Each tenant had a different challenge or disability including various types of mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or chronic depression-physical disabilities such as 10% vision;
or addiction issues such as alcoholism or drug abuse These and other issues were obstacles to their functioning well, both personally and with one another, and contributed to the personal challenges and social isolation that many experienced. In addition, low income and/or lack of knowledge about growing and/or preparing nutritious foods contributed to many people making poor food choices and experiencing poor health situations.
What has happened as a result of the project? In the process of planning, building, planting, and maintaining their gardens, the participants were offered the opportunity to learn a range of skills. Depending on their interests and abilities, some people chose to do a small number of activities such as building the raised beds, while others become involved in a wide range of tasks, from plant starts and building a transplant table to moving soil, participating in garden maintenance, and attending the weekly group meetings and workshops. And while many preferred one-on-one work with the coordinator to working together as a group at any given workshop or learning session, about 60% of the gardeners would take part in any given session. Nine of the twelve who started the year gardening completed the season and are planning to garden again next year. Following are some of the participant?s comments on the difference the project and the garden have made for them and/or the Waterview complex:
“The garden activities brought the tenants involved in the garden group together as a community. The activities were enjoyable and got me outdoors.”
“I learned the basic things about gardening and David?s tips were useful.”
“It made the place more homey.”
“It brought the people here together.”
“I know for me it gets my mind off my illness [terminal cancer]. It is a place to come and relax and gives us something to look forward to. I get to leave my mark on something that will be around long after I’m gone.”