Garden art blooms in the community garden at Evergreen Terrace
In the middle of Victoria, art blooms. The Community Garden at Evergreen Terrace is the inspiration of resident community gardeners like Claude Gamache, a 73-years-young artist and community builder.
“It’s impossible to not feel better when you come to this special place. Our garden opens hearts,” says Claude.
Before the community gardeners started the garden project, Evergreen Terrace’s concrete courtyard, and the larger community garden, was a busy, public short-cut for fast-moving bikes, kids and all walks of life.
Concrete areas and roads frame the site. Traffic roars by, competing with the children's shouts. Noise bounces through the concrete courtyard. Some residents complain about it.
Community gardeners wanted to create a sanctuary space that calms and slows people using the space. Residents wanted a safe place for children and pedestrians. Everyone wanted an outdoor area where neighbours could meet and get to know each other. Claude brought the kids in too, asking for their ideas.
Planning began in 2020. Carefully following COVID-19 pandemic best practices like social distancing, community gardeners began making their garden wishes come true.
Pots of flowers and shrubs were added for beauty and to slow traffic. Summer 2021, working with a local artist, community gardeners and other residents painted two, large murals. Working in shifts allowed artists to follow social distancing recommendations. Later, over fall and winter, working alone at home, each resident painted a part of the Inclusion Signpost.
Says Tricia Irish, Community Programmer with BC Housing’s People, Plants & Homes Program, “Something we all hoped would happen over the Spring of 2021 took much longer. With a great deal of creativity, together we made it work.”
It’s impossible to not feel better when you come to this special place. Our garden opens hearts.
The Inclusion Signpost lives in the centre of the garden, a place of honour. Gifts from children are everywhere. Small toys and painted rocks are placed all around the signpost. This is a place of sharing. Children are encouraged to replace everything they take away.
Flowers are planted and cared for by Claude and a small team of community gardeners.
The creation of the new garden was supported by BC Housing's Tenant Activity Grant (TAG) program. TAG is for tenants living in buildings managed by BC Housing. At Evergreen Terrace, the grant funded the Inclusion Signpost, the wall murals, plus garden pots, plants and soil.
Claude says, “creating the garden was a huge, humbling experience for me. Welcoming magic is felt everywhere in this special space.”
Like the Inclusion Signpost says, together, we are building “a place for belonging, caring, joy, hope, harmony, happiness, peace, respect, compassion, kindness and courage.”
Learn more about community programs for tenants living in buildings managed by BC Housing.