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Almost there! Thanks to the amazing passion of Victoria’s Urban Agriculture allies. Kale Corner is working on becoming an official community garden.

2011-05-29

Oh my goodness! I could never even imagine on Wednesday morning after the city worker came by and notified us of the dismantling of our small garden initiative that within a few days, hundreds of people would rally to champion the cause and show city council that we WILL grow our food in public green spaces because we are the public!!! With the generous and fast moving initiatives of such amazing allies, word spread like wildfire and City Council as well as the Parks department began to receive the flood of letters and petition signatures supporting  the right to grow food in public green spaces and demanding the allowance of Kale Corner to exist as a food producing commons.  I am so grateful to those who lead the way and spent years negotiating and sometimes straight up battling with the city for the right to grow food in the commons. I felt like the way was paved (or cultivated rather) for us after a couple decades of Urban Agriculture activists and now the city and parks are in a space where they don’t quite know where they stand on the matter, with the want and the resolution to support urban ag as well as fear of liability and the commoners taking back the commons beyond their control. AND SO WE WILL! I say now’s the time, the city is aware of the strong will of gardeners and clearly in this case listen to the insightful words of Grace Hopper, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” DO IT! Plant food everywhere, till up public lawns and create food and medicine gardens.

In our little zone, we will continue to grow food and are so excited for the neighbourhood to work together and come join in this. We will engage with the city to ‘officialize’ this as a community garden and jump through the bureaucratic hoops necessary in order for them to allow us to keep our garden space. Let’s keep doing it. The people are powerful when organized, mobilized and interdependent. All of this groundwork was laid by some truly amazing and very giving folks and I want to say huge thanks (thanks could never begin to cover it) to Rainey and Margot at the Haultain Commons, Councillor Phillipe Lucas; truly a city council member of the people (and of the earth, his garden sounds quite epic), Geoff Johnson, Simon Nattrass, Blade McCool and all who wrote in and signed the petition.

Thank you thank you thank you. Lettuce keep at it and help each other make pocket gardens large and small all over this city.

As well, let’s keep growing this petition to show the city how we feel about mindful urban organic food production in public space.

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-kale-corner.html

Happy spring sprouting. I wish you all deliciousness and abundance. There will be a Kale Corner opening party once the paper work is done up and things get all official. We’ll keep you updated to whats going on.

Thanks,

Zoë

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Short Update

2011-05-28

It looks like things are going to be OK. Apparently the issue got to the attention of the mayor and concerns of all parties are being addressed. Expect a post from Zoe soon 🙂

Letter to the Mayor

2011-05-28

From: Rainey Hopewell & Margot Johnston
The Haultain Common, 1420 Haultain St.
Victoria, BC V8R 2J7

To: Mayor Dean Fortin & Victoria Council Members
1 Centennial Square, Victoria, BC V8W 1P6
Re: Kale Corner

May 26, 2011

Dear Dean & Council Members,

We write to you this afternoon to express concern & dismay about the fate of Kale Corner. This is a Common garden much like the  very successful Haultain Common, in that it is a genuine community effort to address some pressing issues of this earth-time: climate chaos, food security, community-building & common wealth. In the absence of reasonable guidelines for food gardening on public land, neighbours on the south edge of Fernwood used their common sense to design a public food garden which is clean, tidy, delightful to behold, and already beloved by the community it feeds. Their design also addresses  many of the liability concerns expressed by Parks personnel concerning boulevard gardening.

We are dismayed to  learn that Parks personnel are dismantling this public food garden, and  profoundly disturbed that this is being done without consultation with the Kale Corner community. In 2011, in the garden city, ( which by Council decree supports urban agricultural activity in principle), the aggressive, unilateral response exhibited by Parks personnel is not acceptable behaviour.

However, it does offer Victoria City Council an opportunity to move beyond principle, into active support of neighbourhood-based urban food security initiatives. Therefore, we ask that you direct Parks personnel to desist from uprooting Kale Corner, to return any confiscated property, to communicate respectfully with the Kale Corner neighbourhood about any legitimate liability concerns, and to allow that community to address those concerns.

This response would respect Victorians’ understandable interest in food security, and allow Parks personnel and citizens to continue building a collaborative alliance regarding use of public land for food production. Allowing Parks personnel to remove this garden, particularly without consultation, will create an undesirable, adversarial relationship between Parks personnel and citizens, which may take years to repair. Vancouver Islanders are worried about where our food will come from when the hard times (which have already arrived elsewhere), wash over Vancouver Island like a tidal wave. This is not the time for the Parks Dept. vs. Citizens Marathon Contest of Wills. This is the time for all of us, together, to plan and prepare for the difficult challenges we will face, as climate chaos heightens and deepens.

The Haultain Common, now entering it’s fourth Spring, has brought tremendous richness to the Fernwood/Oaklands boundary community and beyond. Almost no day passes that we don’t receive positive commentary concerning the Common. It has spawned tremendous food-growing activity, in this neighbourhood and others, in private yards and on boulevards, in Victoria and elsewhere. In addition, we Fernwoodian/Oaklandish boundary folk know each other better, now that we’ve hoed, planted, grown & shared food together. Clearly, the Haultain Common nourishes more than just our bodies. It nourishes a community based upon sharing, which will only serve us well in difficult times. Kale Corner does the same for its neighbourhood, and will provide the same blessings for many years to come.

We often marvel, that here in Canada, perhaps one of the few countries left on earth where no bombs have ever fallen, we Canadians should be so obsessed by safety, that we are afraid to grow food on public land, lest someone slip on a tomato or be stung by a bee. But in the history of our specie, there has never been a time when life did not involve some risk, because life is a risky proposition. So let’s risk growing food, and  let’s risk growing it on public land. To us, this seems the smaller risk: smaller than starving later, when not enough food comes here by ferry, but not enough food grows here, either. We need Kale Corner. And we need all the other public gardens yet to come. And we need sensible guidelines for farming on public land, to make that endeavor reasonably free of hazard. So let’s get on with it, in a respectful, collaborative alliance between citizens and the city. And let’s do it now, because now is the moment we have.

Sincerely, Rainey Hopewell and Margot Johnston

(Ed: posted with permission)

Petition Online Now – Please Sign It

2011-05-27

Zoe has created an online petition for the effort at:

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-kale-corner.html

Please take a moment and sign this petition to show your support for Kale Corner and all boulevard/community gardens in Victoria

Thank you for your support.

– BladeMcCool

Kale Corner Needs Support

2011-05-26

From Rainey Hopewell:

Hello, Dear Friends of the Haultain Common,

The Victoria boulevard gardening movement is in crisis this week.  We’ve been contacted by Zoë Mager, one of the birth mothers of a Common vegetable garden much like the Haultain Common. As you’ll read below, Kale Corner, on Fernwood’s southern edge, has come under the Park’s Department’s radar & is slated for destruction.  The folks living around Kale Corner are like us: a neighbourhood concerned about food security, & building a sense of community & place around their new Common garden plot. If you have a moment to sign their petition, send them a supportive email, contact Philip Lucas (our strongest ally on City Council) or sit with them at City Council this evening, we know they’d appreciate your support. It’s short notice, for sure, but by Zoe’s account, Kale Corner has been sky rocketed from a peaceful community garden to an emergency situation within a 24 hour period. If Kale Corner goes, a precedent is re-established, supporting a reality in which the Parks Department can remove boulevard gardens without neighbourhood consultation, setting the Common garden movement back four years. Please do what you can, within so short a time-frame!

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Original message from Zoe:

My name is Zoë Mager and alongside my housemate Chris Fretwell and other inhabitants of 1702 Belmont, we have put a huge amount of effort, resources and seeds into a boulevard garden on the green space at the intersecting corner of Belmont, Begbie and Grant streets. One of the many of our neighbours who enjoys and supports our gardening initiative there named this space Kale Corner. We have made every effort to keep the space clean, safe, aesthetically pleasing, away from sidewalks as not to obstruct any walking paths. Truly a labour of love, the gardens have been admired by many a neighbour walking their dog or biking with their children. This morning a city worker came  by and without any notice began deconstructing the raised bed that we created there. They took away the driftwood that contained our beds and warned that they would come back to re-seed the 3 truckloads of earth that had been brought.  After speaking with him and being told that our food garden was a liability, he directed us to Gord Smith, Parks Operations Manager.

We are asking for the support of city council to halt the dismantling of the garden and permit the use of the green space for this community garden initiative. As well, we are asking our gardening allies and those with a passion for taking back the commons and growing food in public space to stand up next to us. There will be a petition at Simple Remedies on Cook St. and hopefully at the Cornerstone Café starting this weekend. Also feel free to come check out the space. This weekend we will be erecting a large poster and petition on the fence at Kale Corner. There will be a City Council meeting going on tomorrow night as well. You can try and sign up to be on the speakers list  http://www.victoria.ca/cityhall/council-address-form.aspx  The sign up is supposed to happen by 11 am on the Wednesday before but since the deconstruction began this morning, that was not possible.

Thanks for your solidarity folks and feel free to contact us if you have any ideas or words of wisdom on the matter.

Happy spring and I wish you good times getting down and dirty in the earth.

Zoë

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Pictures of the project: