1. Maintaining Community
The challenge of creating a sense of community among our members who form a very diverse group is considerable with 350 members. Our success as an organization depends on the cooperation and commitment of members to the community garden as a whole, which is entirely maintained by members (ie. we have no on-site staff). Over time, members become increasingly committed to the organization and to one another. There is an evolution from caring about one’s own plot, to caring about the whole garden.
2. Park Infrastructure
The parking lot at the Community Gardens serves all park users, and has only 70 parking spaces. We are already experiencing the closure of the parking lot on busy week-ends because it is full. There is no provision for “overflow”. This is frustrating. Though we have lobbied for more parking, both Metro Vancouver and the Kwikwetlem First Nation are opposed to expansion.
3. Multiple Plots
At present, we have 350 members, and about 550 plots. On average, gardeners have 1.57 plots. Relatively few gardeners have the maximum plots allowed of 4 plots amounting to a garden of 1000 square feet.
4. Useful Scale Comparison
Baraga allotment garden in Burnaby is similar in overall area to our gardens (10 acres vs. our 7 acres). Members there can only have one plot. However, their one plot is the equivalent of 4 of our plots, 1,000 square feet! We believe that the 4-plot limit at Colony Farm is appropriate for those gardeners who have the time, energy and expertise to look after that size of garden, given the scale of the community gardens overall, and its remoteness, requiring vehicle access and some commuting. Only when a gardener demonstrates that they can properly look after their original garden, and after reapplying to the waitlist, can a gardener add a plot.
5. Annual allocation to new members vs.increasing demand for plots
In 2023 we took in 35 new members, having had attrition of about 10% of our membership. In 2022, we took in 40 new members. (40 members is comparable to establishing a new community garden in a more urban area.) We will continue to welcome new gardeners to the gardens each year. However, we cannot possibly accommodate the current demand. With the growth in population in the Tri-Cities we have seen a dramatic increase in demand for community garden space, and recreational facilities generally.
We would like to say to people who ask about joining and are dismayed by the wait: “You are guaranteed a plot if you put your name on the list.” We encourage all who are interested to apply to the waitlist once it reopens.