›› Shannon K. Auringer
He was hard at work shoveling, yet another pile of garden waste, as I wandered up the Chambers Street sidewalk. I was suited up in my rain coat and knee boots, as it was in true Victoria style, raining. Proving that nothing stopped him, Ed persevered forward in his jacket and shorts because face it; if the rain stops you, you’re living in the wrong city.
What started out as a plea for help from surrounding neighbors, to rescue Fernwood’s beloved edible garden, has quickly bloomed into a labour of love for Ed Horel of North Park Street. Most days of the week from morning till sunset, you can find Ed in the Commons resuscitating and rejuvenating the medicinal plants, fruit trees, and adding colourful new additions of perennials. With the rain dripping off the brim of his black Dodge cap, Ed took me on a tour of the garden and wowed me with his vast expertise in horticulture. I learned that one can make tea from rose hips, mugwort is for women’s issues, and fennel grows like a weed if there’s too much of it.
He stood proudly, marveling at all the work that has taken place in the last month by himself and other volunteers. He talked about how today was day twenty, since beginning this transformation. At first he spent his days disposing of syringes and garbage. He now weeds and prunes, as families walk through Spring Ridge, city workers eat their lunch, and children play.
When complimented on what an amazing feat he has accomplished, he humbly nods and is quick to point out that there is still so much more to be done. He welcomes any and all to come help. Ed would like to see residents add their own personal flare with painted rocks and homemade bird feeders. While he understands that not everyone is a gardener, he states that anyone can help with a donation of a plant; just bring it on over any day of the week.
Off to the side of Chambers by the book nook, Ed points out a hidden monument that fell prey to its overgrown state for far too long. A homemade headstone for Cake the cat. He chuckled at the discovery, for its randomness, but expressed how amazing it was that someone took the time to make this space for their beloved pet.
So next time you’re walking by or walking through Spring Ridge Commons, don’t be shy, give Ed a wave or shout hello. “Tell all the neighbors to come on by!” he says.