A new mapping system helps connect Greater Victoria property owners with gardeners looking for space to grow.
The Young Agrarians, a nation-wide non-profit farmer resource organization, has extended its farmland mapping program to include both rural and urban gardens, centralizing information for those looking for garden space to use and those with garden space to share.
The U-Map shows locations of gardens and farms with extra space or in need of helpers, listing the size, type and nature of the land for those looking, who can also post specifics of what they want. So far only a handful of Greater Victoria locations are listed, but community education coordinator Azja Martin hopes that will change.
“In light of COVID-19, we really saw an uptick in the number of people who were looking to get their hands into soil in urban settings,” she said
. “People wanted to take action … to help support their own food supply and also just being engaged in supporting our whole community in that.
Victoria’s Jelena Putnik can vouch for the benefits of sharing her outdoor space. Among fresh lavender, bean poles, nodding onion, parsnip, potatoes and unruly raspberry bushes, Putnik’s yard is bursting at the seams with life and growth. But she said sharing the space has offered a new kind of bounty.
In the last few years, Putnik has shared her Fernwood garden space with a few different people. Last year an older woman grew some food, and this year a PhD student is spending some time in Putnik’s garden.
“For the older woman it was connection and community, for the younger woman it [is] de-stressing,” Putnik said. “It feeds us all.”
Putnik negotiated different agreements for different gardeners based on bounty, costs and goals. Some only wanted a small portion of land, while others were looking to grow a substantial amount of food. The joy of sharing, she said, is finding a way that everyone gets what they need.
“Your hands are in the soil and you just calm down – it’s an incredible de-stresser. For different people it does different things.”