A hidden Vancouver gem: Strathcoma and Cottonwood Community Gardens

East Van is just as close to the Ocean as other parts of the city of Vancouver, but the water is harder to see.  This neighbourhood is industrial, bustling with the activity of the portlands. Just next to a busy road, filled with transport trucks and shipping docks is the Strathcoma and Cottonwood Community Gardens. If you aren’t paying attention, you might miss it, but I caught a couple of members ducking in to an opening next to the road, and was welcomed with open arms and lots of information about space that has existed since local residents began transforming the site from an informal dump in 1985. The garden features an eco-pavillion, a greenhouse, a nursery, a bee shed and bee hive, an orchard, an espalier area (like a small orchard), an herb garden, wildlife habitat, children’s play area, and approximately 200 garden plots for residents to grow organic food and flowers. There are even a limited number of raised beds for gardeners with physical limitations or disabilities.

Garden entrance

From their website:

Strathcona Community Garden is a volunteer- managed public green space on 1.35 hectares ( 3.34 acres) of city land in Vancouver Eastside.  Local residents began transforming the site from an informal dump in 1985.  Recognizing its role as a leader in community-run ecological stewardship, the Park Board signed in 2005 a 25 year lease with the Strathcona Community Gardeners Society, a non – profit charitable organization  which members join each year to renew their garden plots.

The garden exists to:

– provide space for area residents  to grow their own organic food, herbs and flowers.

– offer rare inner city  habitat space for wildlife.

– educate  gardeners and the community on organic food techniques, composting and other urban ecological skills.

– maintain an urban oasis for all residents and visitors to enjoy.

Even though I am not a resident, I was encouraged to take my time to explore and enjoy the space. Here are a few shots of the gorgeous sites I was treated to:

Cottonwood Community Garden entrance

Cottonwood Community Garden entrance, with one of the local residents, walking her dog.

Garden plot

One of the garden plots, showing an array of vegetables and flowers, and a great upcycled, brightly painted headboard.

Garden plot

Urban vegetable bounty, and some brightly coloured labels.

Garden path

A path through the garden

Member in the midst

One of the community garden members on a visit to tend his plot. He was super friendly and encouraged me to explore.

Garden Path

Another garden path, with more tree coverage.

flower

Detail of one of the many species of flowers and plants that I had never seen before entering this garden.

Cottonwood Garden entrance trellis

On my way, looking out from within, where you can see how close the garden is to all the cars lining the industrial area close by.

plaque

A plaque to show the intention of the orchard, asking not to pick the fruit, because they track the yields to understand the methods they use and the success of the project.

Stratchoma Orchard

This, the orchard, you can see from the road.

The garden is at risk of being plowed over to make room for more lanes in the industrial area. Even if you`re not a Vancouverite, if you feel this is a mistake you`re welcome to read more about the gardens and sign your name to their petition if you wish:

http://strathconagardens.ca/save-the-gardens-from-the-malkin-connector/

 

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