Haultain Common: A Garden on Public Land Where All May Harvest

101116_haultain3_200.jpgSeptember 12, 2010. Beware the subversives on Haultain Boulevard in Victoria, B.C. The friendly women gardening in their edible front yard greet all passers-by with conversation and invitations to harvest food.

Guerrilla gardeners Rainey Hopewell (photo top) and Margot Johnston (photo right) are claiming common ground to use for the common good. With a nod from their city agencies, they’ve planted vegetables in the parking strip in front of their house and offer them free for the taking. The Haultain Common, as they say, is a “neighborhood-supported public food garden on public land, where all may harvest.”

A lovely magic is happening around the Common: community. Neighboring children and adults have joined in to help plant, mulch and harvest the potatoes, tomatoes and squash (above, Grace Vardy).

Chalk messages on the sidewalk tell passers-by when particular vegies are ready to pick. The birth mothers of the Haultain Common note that most people in our culture tend to be reluctant to receive if they haven’t first given. So “we just give them some tomatoes or potatoes and encourage them to come by and harvest in future.” And many of them do just that. For some, this produce helps keep hunger at bay.

The subversiveness is spreading. Edible gardens are appearing on other parking strips. Neighbors are putting in backyard gardens. Harvest parties are being held. People are getting to know one another. A neighborhood community is happening, centered around zero-mile, locally-produced, picked-the-same day food.

Look forward to a delightful conversation with the Haultain Commoners who have catalyzed a neighborhood transformation — with fun, food, sharing and camaraderie.

Watch Claiming the Commons – Food for All on Haultain Boulevard (episode 185).


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