27 March 2010

Guerrilla Garden Drama Continues

One thing I missed on Thursday: after a relatively peaceful memorial at the garden/lawn site, the group marched over to the Administration building and seemed threatening enough to those inside that Campus Security instigated a lockdown.

Here's a follow-up article in the Times-Colonist: Garden Protest at UVic Heats Up, and a piece run by CBC News: UVic Rips out Unsanctioned Student Garden -- some of the comments on the CBC piece (both pro and con) really got me annoyed. Here is one voice from inside the protest group: Resistance is Fertile UVic Students and Community Members Seek to Remake Campus.

I wish that the Food not Lawns/Resistance is Fertile group would accept that they have the spotlight and use it to their advantage. They are calling for more action on Wednesday and I suspect it will be more confrontational this time.

I'm sure there are ways that they could work with both the Campus Community Garden and also the Administration if what they truly wanted was a resolution. Unfortunately, I think they just want attention.

If their issue is about growing food, they could join the CCG -- there are collective plots available to all students and the community -- or they could sign up for the Sharing Backyards project coordinated by LifeCycles, or they could even go big or go home by working with Linking Land and Future Farmers through the South Island Orgainic Producers Association. Both Sharing Backyards and LAFF seek to match people with land they cannot work with people who lack land to work.

If it's about helping the CCG find a new location, why not work with them -- start a garden on the Cedar Hill /CJVI lands. This area, adjacent to Mystic Vale is pretty much the last remaining farmland from the HBC Uplands Farm [see Planet U for a great description] and is currently used as a dog park and a disc golf course. This area has been set aside for "future development" for a long time. The 2003 Campus Plan (which is still being used to drive development) notes:

The primary area reserved for future development is the CJVI site. This 12.4 ha (30.7 acre) property of open-space land adjoins Cedar Hill Cross Road at the southeast corner of the campus. The property is surrounded by residential neighborhoods on one side and by South Woods on the other side. In view of the moratorium on natural areas, the timing of permanent development of this property may be advanced.

The following policy directions provide guidance on the urban design and landscaping matters. Wherever the A’ symbol appears, this denotes that there is a corresponding action item in Section 5.

Policy Directions – CJVI Property

LB#26 Potential Uses The CJVI Property has potential for temporary uses and permanent development, including academic expansion, faculty and student housing, sports and recreational facilities, parking, and any special opportunity uses that may arise.

LB#27 Master Planning Study – A Prior to any permanent development taking place, a master plan for the CJVI Property will be prepared with these caveats:

  • The plan will be guided by the vision and principles of this plan, as it may be amended from time to time.
  • Permanent development will provide landscaping and visual buffering to minimize its impact on nearby neighbours and on the adjoining forested areas of the University.
  • Creative thought must be given to the best way to provide links and connections from these lands to other areas of the campus.

The use of this area for communal agriculture in one way or another has been well documented for about 15 years and if the protesters are aware of all of these plans then I can understand their frustration. However considering how slow the wheels sometimes turn at UVic, I also understand that we are likely some months (or years) from a decision.

If you find this subject as interesting as I do, here is some additional background reading:

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