In the heart of Fernwood is an urban oasis known as Spring Ridge Common.
This unique place is an open food forest, shared by all who help to maintain it, enjoy it’s relaxing atmosphere, and harvest from the diversity of useful, medicinal and edible plants and trees. Dedicated volunteers and community members help to steward the ecosystems, keep the site clean and safe, and create a welcoming and respectful environment. The City of Victoria has recognized the value of this and other open food forests around town, and is now supporting Community Garden Volunteer Coordinator positions in different neighbourhoods, with food production as a primary focus.
This land is within traditional Songhees territory, where First Nations people practiced food forest management techniques in Garry Oak meadows filled with camas bulbs that were eaten in abundance. A school house was built on the site in 1887, and after being torn down in 1968 it was turned into a parking lot. Spring Ridge Common was established in 1999 by volunteers and inspired by Geoff Johnson, a local ecological food forester. This Victoria School District property at the corner of Chambers and Gladstone has transformed from a hard-packed gravel lot to an engaging multi-layer mid-succession forest containing over 100 species of plants, home to many native birds and insects, and a small Garry Oak meadow. Check out a map of the Common here.
Long-term planning and creativity for the site to be self-sufficient are in development and supported by the Fernwood NRG, who is the current leaseholder of Spring Ridge Common. Inspiration for more local food security initiatives has resulted in the installation of the Fernwood Neighbourhood Orchard and Community Kitchen Gardens surrounding the Fernwood Community Centre. Educational Site Tours are a way for groups and individuals to get help identifying plants, learn harvest techniques, engage in ecological design systems and support continued food garden stewardship and resiliency projects.
Work parties are currently happening weekly, where you can get involved in food forest management activities such as pruning, fruit thinning, mulching to increase mycelial activity, weeding, and transplanting; all helping to increase healthy food production. The stewardship team welcomes you as a group or individual to get involved, meet community members, enjoy fresh-picked herbal tea, contribute to on-site community visioning and Bee in the Garden!
For more information, to join our email list, find out about upcoming events and courses, attend a workparty, or book a tour, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.