Why Should We Boulevard Garden in Victoria?
A better question might be: Why continue to tend ornamental grass? At a time when climate change is growing more difficult to ignore and fossil fuels are growing more difficult to mine, tending so much grass grows more difficult to justify. People run lawn mowers and weed whackers and leaf blowers up and down the boulevards, burning fuel, belching CO2, wasting time.
Why boulevard garden? For starters, the City of Victoria’s Official Community Plan sets supporting policy objectives that can be met, in part, by boulevard gardening: “Encourage food production activities in visible and suitable public places to foster a connection between people and the process of growing, harvesting and eating fresh produce” (17.5), and “Consider new and innovative approaches to urban food production that increase food security, in partnership with citizens, community groups and other stakeholders” (17.9). In pursuit of these objectives, the City of Victoria has adopted a set of Boulevard Gardening Guidelines. The Guidelines offer a long list of compelling reasons to garden street-side, including: to create more beautiful, interesting and diverse streets; to provide bird, butterfly and pollinator habitats; to improve availability of edible plants; to increase feelings of community pride.
It’s time to look outward and inward, for baby-steps we can take toward regreening our streets and detoxifying our biosphere. I don’t imagine many people are ready to hang up their car keys, at least not yet. But can we find the collective strength to sacrifice some grass?! To many people, lawns inspire yawns. Street-side gardens look a lot more attractive, and feel a lot more productive. Street-side food and flowers don’t need mowing or buzzing or blowing. Boulevards offers us public space to grow local food, diverse ways to improve degraded landscapes, and pleasant paths to build stronger communities. Let’s lend new meaning to “The City of Gardens”.
If you’d like to hear more reasons for boulevard gardens, and find some inspiration along the way, listen to what Ron Finley and Pam Warhurst have to say.