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Richmond food group defends community garden's appearance

Coun. Bill McNulty recently complained at a public meeting that one community garden looked like a 'pigsty.'

Urban Bounty, which manages Richmond’s community gardens, was shocked to see one councillor complain about a community garden in Steveston looking like a pigsty.

Ian Lai, executive director of Urban Bounty – formerly the Richmond Food Security Society – said he thinks this is just one councillor’s opinion, and the society receives a lot of support from the city for the work they do to manage the city’s 11 community gardens.

“Moncton is one of most pretty (community gardens),” Lai said, adding “I’m not sure what he saw.”

In a letter to the Richmond News, Lai said “gardeners are varied and so are their gardens.”

“Community gardens are not manicured spaces like a French garden and having that expectation is unrealistic,” Lai explained in his letter.

Coun. Bill McNulty made the comment recently at a committee meeting where another proposed community garden – next to Birchwood Estates on the Railway greenspace – was the subject of complaints from nearby residents.

McNulty said the community garden on Moncton looked like a “pigsty” nine-tenths of the year.

Urban Bounty manages all 11 city-owned community garden sites, and each one has a garden captain, Lai explained. There are rules on how they are run, all approved by the city’s parks department, Lai added.

In fact, Lai said, Urban Bounty has a good relationship with the parks department, which provides water for irrigation, fencing, sheds, soil and mulch and green bin services.

There are times when gardens do look messy, Lai added, but the garden captain will then report that and Urban Bounty will work with the gardener to remedy the situation.

The complaint about the proposed community garden at Birchwood Estates prompted the committee to ask staff for more information on proposed community gardens and maintenance rules.

The item is expected to come up at the next parks, recreation and cultural services meeting and Lai said he will ask to make a presentation at that meeting.

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