Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Community Mapping

The Fernwood Community Mapping Project is holding some Open Houses over the weekend. They're looking for input into their project, which will be both a paper and an online map. They want to know what Fernwood residents want to see on their Community Map. Here's what they have to say,

What would you like to see on our map? Where are your favorite places? Tell us your Fernwood stories and secrets! What should we tell the world about us? Help us build a beautiful community map!
The vent is at the FCA Gallery, 1923 Fernwood Rd. on Friday April 1 @ 7-9 pm, Saturday & Sunday @ 11-4 pm. I'll be going to see whether this is an initiative that we could also do in Fairfield (I think it is).

Here is some background on the Fernwood Green Map initiative from the UVIC website.

More about Green Maps here.

-Fiona Gilsenan

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pallet Gardening

Photo of a door garden from Clarence House, London, by Fiona Gilsenan

For those of you with narrow spaces—like a balcony or sunny sideyard—here's an idea that I've been seeing more and more lately: planting a pallet garden. I see it as a way to plant herbs, but here's a good step-by-step from Life on the Balcony on how to build one.

In Fairfield, we have nearly 6,500 townhouses, duplexes, or apartments (most people are surprised to hear that number, but you can find the source at the City of Victoria website). That's a lot of balconies. Let us know if you try building a pallet garden on yours!

-Fiona Gilsenan

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wondering about Permaculture?

Image from

'Permaculture' is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot, but not everyone is sure what it means. Is it organic? Is it mysterious? Does it involve bizarre composting rituals? There are quite a few permaculture practitioners and experts in Victoria. A few of them are offering what looks like a good learning opportunity for someone who is serious enough to want to spend $200 for a comprehensive look at permaculture.

This two-day intensive workshop will be offered on April 23-24th in Victoria. Included in the price is:
  1. -a copy of the book ‘Introduction to Permaculture’ by Bill Mollison
  2. -16 hours of Permaculture Design theory & applied Organic Gardening techniques
  3. -Certificate of Attendance
  4. -coffee, tea & a delicious lunch both days!

Sounds like you'll learn about compost tea, vermiculture, the soil food web, and much more. For more information, visit the website or e-mail

-Fiona Gilsenan

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Community Gardens: How Many is Enough?

The City of Victoria Food System Discussion Paper is worth a read. You can find it on the City's Official Community Plan website.

The section on Case Studies is interesting. Here are some stats on Community Gardens in other West Coast cities with favorable climates:

San Francisco (pop 815,000). "The Recreation & Parks Department supports and manages 40 community gardens on City-owned property, operated in partnership with community volunteers...the Mayor's Directive on Healthy and Sustainable Food (2009) [is] a groundbreaking, comprehensive food policy that holistically considers all stages of the food system."

Seattle (pop 608,000) "Over 1,900 garden plots serve more than 3,800 gardenders on 23 acres of land. The gardens are an integral part of neighbourhood development...Seattle's Comprehensive Plan (1995) states the goal of 1 garden for every 2000 households in every "urban village"."

Vancouver (pop 578,041) "Vancouver has 52 community gardens on Parks Board, School District, City and transit authority-owned land that provide 1,600 community (allotment) garden plots. 900 additional community-shared (commons) gardens are integrated into new developments around the City."

Portland (pop 582,000) "Has 32 gardens on Parks, public and private lands...Administered by Community Gardens Office."

So, how does Victoria compare? We're doing a survey right now to find out exactly how many garden plots there are in Victoria and the CRD. But wouldn't it be wonderful to have a Community Gardens Office here?

-Fiona Gilsenan

Green Drinks @ UVIC

Here's an event that isn't listed on the usual Green Drinks website. There should be some interesting folks there from the Office of Community-Based Research and other UVIC groups. They are currently hosting Wendy Brawer, the founder of in NYC. I bet there will be lots of chatter about sustainability, food security, and local food production. All up our alley!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Mayor is Coming to Fairfield

Tonight, Wed. March 16th, Mayor Dean Fortin will be in our neighbourhood to talk about budget issues. You'll find him in the Garry Oak Room at the Fairfield Community Association from 7:30 to 9 pm. I wonder if anyone will raise some of the issues that matter to gardeners in Fairfield, such as the City's Community Garden Policy, which is due for a revamp.

-Fiona Gilsenan

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Dirt in Fernwood

City Councillor Philippe Lucas and Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South and Agriculture Critic for the NDP, is hosting an event in Fernwood tonight, March 15th @ 7 pm, and it sounds like a great time.  Here's what the invite says.

You are invited to a FREE screening of Dirt the Movie!

An award-winning documentary and an Official Selection at Sundance Film Festival, Dirt! the Movie tells an amazing and little known story of the relationship between humans and living dirt

Watch this trailer and you'll see why this movie has gotten rave reviews!

Co-hosted by MLA and Ag Critic Lana Popham and City Councillor Philippe Lucas. After the film we'll have tea and snacks and a presentation by farmer and local-food advocate Bob Maxwell.
See you at the Fernwood Community Association tonight (1923 Fernwood Road).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Springridge Commons Work Party

Photo of Spring Ridge Commons Work Party by Tony Sprackett (

Do you have tools and gloves and a bit of time to spare on Sunday, March 13th? If so, think about joining a work party at Spring Ridge Commons, Victoria’s oldest and largest public permaculture garden. Fernwood NRG and Transition Victoria Food Group are taking leadership in supporting the Commons and monthly work parties are being organized.

This work party will be co-led byTamara Schwartzentruber, a certified Permaculture Designer /Teacher and Gardener, and local gardener Dan Miller.

Work Party Activities and Tasks:  (More will be added....

*  Impromptu site tours of Spring Ridge Commons
*  Mulch some trees with wood chips, and inoculate them with the mycelium of wine cap mushrooms
*   Some plantings
*  Weeding morning glories and tackling blackberry bush
*  Cutting down tall grass with kamas
*  Place rocks (the size of two fists or bigger) to make the paths more defined? -  Volunteers to collect /donate rocks beforehand would be much appreciated. Call Linda at (250) 380-6383.

For more information, go to the Springridge Commons site.
-Fiona Gilsenan

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Learning Opportunity in Hillside-Quadra

 Merlot and Salad Bowl lettuce photo by Fiona Gilsenan.

Our neighbours in nearby Hillside-Quadra and North Park have a wonderful opportunity on offer from the Blanshard Community Centre. The Centre has applied for funding for an exciting program offering garden mentor support. Here's what they have to say,

If we receive funding, up to 15 households will receive free expert advice and information, workshops on gardening topics and seeds, seedlings, soil amendments, and tools.
Sounds like a good deal, so if you are interested, contact Marion and 250.388.7696 or e-mail to have your household included on the list of possible participants.

-Fiona Gilsenan

Friday, March 4, 2011

Got Gardening Gear?

The Fairfield Community Association is holding one of it's fabulous clothing swaps tomorrow, March 5th from 10 am to 1 pm. Do you have a nice straw hat, pair of wellies, or a tweed jacket that you no longer use? Bring it to the clothing swap!

-Fiona Gilsenan