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Richmond residents communicate via global gardening language

The tenants at the community gardens on Railway Avenue are from all corners of the globe and are about to launch their own seed library
Rachel Qian is one of the tenants at the community gardens on Railway Avenue at Hollymount Gate

They mainly communicate via the universal language of gardening and they’re about to embark on their first ever spring season.

The tenants of the 40 or so, relatively new plots at the community garden near Railway Avenue and Hollymount Gate in south Richmond are local residents, but originally from all corners of the globe.

They each bring with them their green-fingered experience – and subsequent culinary tastes – from the likes of Europe, China, India and South America.

And in a couple of weeks they will be launching their first ever seed library, just eight months after the community garden was created.

“A neighbour handyman is making it right now and we’re all very excited,” one of the plot tenants, Rachel Qian, told the Richmond News.

“It will be seeds from our crops and we will hopefully be exchanging them and learning even more about each other’s crops as we go.”

Qian said she had very little knowledge of growing her own vegetables and other produce until she joined the community garden last year.

Now, with the help of her new-found gardening friends, she’s been producing the likes of lettuce and carrots.

“The people here are amazing, they’re from everywhere around the world, so they’re all growing different things and sharing those experiences from around the world.

“Some of them speak English, but that fluent…We try to understand each other, but we can still exchange seeds at harvest time.

“We all communicate through gardening. We can show each other and motion what we are doing and we can understand from that. It’s amazing.
Qian said she has a small backyard, but it doesn’t get half of the sunshine that the community garden gets.

Connecting with your neighbours

And besides, she would never meet the people she has if she hadn’t joined up last summer.

“It’s just wonderful for communicating with your neighbours and getting to know people…making connections,” added Qian, an immigrant from China about five years ago.

“I love this place so much. We were all helping each other last fall when we were setting up. There were kids, adults, it was wonderful.”

Thanks to the Environmental Enhancement Grant, approved by City of Richmond and Urban Bounty, the gardeners will open up their seed and plant library at an event on April 1 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and will host a free workshop about seed-saving.