2022 Greener Greenspace Profile
Riley Park Community Garden
Located in Vancouver, BC, the Riley Park Community Garden is a community greenspace where people gather to grow food, learn from one another, and promote environmental sustainability.
Design and Process
Riley Park Community Garden is a food security project of Little Mountain Neighbourhood House, a Vancouver organization providing free or low-cost neighbourhood-based programs for seniors, adults, children and youth. The garden increases access to healthy food while fostering community engagement, education and communal stewardship.
The garden is located in a Vancouver city park. Using organic land care practices, the garden has increased the park's biodiversity and ecological functioning. Designed and planted to be pollinator friendly, the garden's periphery provides year-round pollen and nectar for pollinators such as bees, butterflies and birds. A section of the communal community garden includes a native plant foodscape.
A soil scientist who is a professor emeritus from the University of British Columbia advises on soil health. Produce is grown in accessible raised beds, ground-level beds and a kids’ learning garden.
The garden is zero-waste and features a robust compost program under the stewardship of a Master Composter. Bark mulch is used on the pathways, and straw or cover crops are used in the garden beds over the winter. The garden has drip irrigation throughout, and a rainwater harvesting system. The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) provided the drip irrigation system and renewable energy (solar and wind) sources for the garden. Funding from the University of British Columbia provides for a climate change and food security project to research urban agriculture that adapts to changing climate conditions.
Garden volunteers share the work and the harvest. A very engaged community tends the garden. There is one part-time garden coordinator and support from staff at the Neighbourhood House, but most gardeners are volunteers. In 2022, the garden hosted over 72 guided work parties with 10-12 gardeners at each 2-hour session. Produce is grown for the organization’s programs and to stock the community fridge in front of the neighbourhood house. The priority is to support those who are food insecure in Little Mountain Riley Park neighbourhood, however, everyone is welcome to share in the harvest.
Riley Park Community Garden implements a communal model of community gardening. The multi-faceted programming reflects the core vision to improve food security, ecological sustainability and community development. It is a public greenspace where people feel a sense of belonging and ownership. It is also a park space to share customs and stories related to food and gardening. Especially during the growing season, Riley Park is a meeting place for families and their young children to enjoy nature, the garden and surroundings.
The garden support’s Vancouver’s food security and climate change goals. The research projects are shared with the City of Vancouver, Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Parks Board staff and committees to ensure alignment with their goal and those of the Glasgow Declaration on climate change and food security. The pollinator borders and the garden's rewilded areas are part of the City's biodiversity plans, and the garden is a key site for the David Suzuki Foundation Butterflyway map.
For more information on the garden, visit their website.
Photos c/o Riley Park Community Garden.
Greener Greenspaces is a recognition program for sites from across Canada that exemplify greener greenspace stewardship. The aim of the program is to showcase examples of ecologically-focused land care as a means to inspire others and to further the movement across Canada.See the full list of 2022 recognition recipients here