>>Lee Herrin

People in Fernwood are connected to Spring Ridge Common in myriad ways: some are neighbours, others love the permaculture angle, some just enjoy a quiet space to relax with a friend, and some, like last issue’s contributor, remember the site when it was a wooden school building. Spring Ridge Common isn’t going anywhere. Having said that, it does belong to the School District, and long term, they may determine a use for it. Nonetheless, it has been a community garden for a very long time, and it will remain an open community garden for the foreseeable future. An open community garden, though, presents a challenge in its own right. Over the years, the biggest challenge has been ensuring timely and effective maintenance of the site.

Fernwood NRG currently holds a lease for the Common with the School District of Greater Victoria. Fernwood NRG is not the first—there have been a number of previous organizations who held the lease and were the nominal stewards of the Common. However, each preceding organization ended up passing the lease and the mantle of stewardship to another organization for reasons to do with cost and risk. Costs arise from water use, hauling refuse, dealing with pests, paying for insurance, etc.; risk arises when neighbours complain, or city bylaw officers are called, or the police respond, and no one is able to be accountable.

Fernwood NRG is willing (and has been willing) to bear the costs and the risks for the past five years. We are also willing to continue doing so, but some things have to change. One thing that is driving the process of change is that the City of Victoria has recognized that Community Gardens reliant on volunteers for maintenance require some resources to coordinate volunteers. For this reason, they made a (very) small grant available on a direct award basis to neighbourhoods with community gardens. Practically, this means Fernwood NRG has received funds to support an honorarium for a volunteer coordinator for Spring Ridge Common.

And so, we are announcing through this article (and will be posting on our website, and circulating through various lists) that we are holding an open request for proposals from prospective Spring Ridge Common Stewards. Candidates for the job must have a Permaculture Design Certificate or other horticultural training. They must have at least two years of experience working directly in a horticultural or agricultural setting. They must have experience working in a community based setting, preferably including previous experience coordinating volunteers. There are other things our ideal candidate will possess, so if you are interested, and you meet the minimum qualifications stated above, please see www.fernwoodnrg.ca/spring-ridge-common-request-for-proposals. We hope to announce the successful candidate in the February edition of the Village Vibe.