Meet Vancouver’s community gardeners

There’s a reason the city’s community garden plots are so coveted. Places like Nelson Park are good for growing veggies, sure, but they also create ideal conditions for cultivating community

October 4, 2016

By Catherine Roscoe Barr / Photo: Carlo Ricci

communitygardeners

“We’re such a diverse group, each with a love for raising food. I’m always learning more about gardening, even though I’ve been doing it for over 65 years. I would just like the mason bees I release each spring to stay home with me for once.”—Shirley Etter, retired United Church minister

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“We lived in Hong Kong for 20 years and used to stay nearby when we visited Vancouver. I thought, ‘If I ever move back here, I’d love a plot.’ Now here we are… but [my husband] Jeff’s doing all the work.”—Christy Webb-Gibson, theatre director, executive producer of Christy Webb Productions

“Tourists always stop to look and ask questions—I get to practise my French and Spanish!”—Jeff Gibson, retired airline pilot
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“I love gardening because it’s something Stuart [boyfriend] and I can do together, and it’s brought us closer together. I used to garden with my grandma and love that it’s something I can carry on as an adult.”—William Ramos, hotel worker

“I was the very first person to get a plot. I saw the ad, jumped on applying for it, and they let me pick any plot I wanted.”—Stuart MacKay, horticultural technician
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“I’m originally from Chicago and always had a garden back home because I had a yard, but I can’t afford a yard in Vancouver. I love to garden; I have a passion for it. I’m thrilled to have a plot here.”—Mark Regalado, maintenance manager at Times Square Suites Hotel
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“I’m a florist, which is why I grow flowers in my garden, not vegetables. Originally I did it because my mom was sick and I made her bouquets, but she’s gone now. It’s a great feeling to see things grow…it’s meditative.”—Susan Tsuruta, florist
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“It’s about expressing oneself and sharing with the neighbourhood! But I am envious of my neighbour’s beets.”—Kirk Olson, Arts Club Theatre Company box office staff

“I’ve been here since the beginning. It was really neat to see the garden grow from the community ‘grass roots’ movement…pun intended.”—Sarah Newton, travel manager
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“I started out with brown thumbs and they’re slowly getting greener, day by day!”—Elizabeth Kidd, gardener, botanical illustrator and community-building teacher
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