It’s grass, dirt and decorated with a few straw bales right now, but the 3.5 acre lot at the corner of Robie Street and Bell Road will start looking like a farm in no time.
The former Queen Elizabeth high school site is almost ready to be converted into the Common Roots Urban Farm.
The province will be finishing off some work like removing a water line and taking down the chain-link fence over the next few weeks. And until Capital Health makes a decision on what to build there, it will be an urban farm.
Beset by delays during the school demolition last year, the farm will get going by the end of this month as loads and loads of soil will be dumped on the site.
“I think you’ll see the first planting by the end of May, first of June,” said Roma Dingwell, project manager with the non-profit Partners for Care which is operating the farm.
There’s huge anticipation, she added.
“The community has been very involved in the design, in the planning and the programming and they’ll be very involved in the build as well.”
It will take three years to fully install the farm. But when completed, the farm will include an on-site pizza oven, a cutting garden where flowers will be cut and made into bouquets for sale, a demonstration farm, a fruit and nut orchard, and a therapeutic garden for the patients of the QEII hospital next door.
Community groups will have garden plots and school groups will be able to tour the site and learn about farming.
“What we’re trying to do is show its possibilities and teach people how to grow good food,” Dingwell said.
It’s also a great example of what can be done with empty lots in the city, she said.
The gaping hole for the proposed convention centre on Argyle Street is one example.
Dingwell said they’re planning on having the full site for at least five years, but it will still exist in a smaller form once a building constructed there.
What will happen at the Common Roots Urban Farm this year:
- 15-20 raised garden beds
- Small portion of the market gardens (crops)
- Work on the cutting gardens
- Start on the therapeutic pathway