The Samaritan House in partnership with the South End Community Association (SECA) is embarking on an exciting and very fruitful project. The project involves converting an abandoned lot owned by the City of Nanaimo located at the back of the Samaritan House into a green space/ park for public use. The lot will also be used to add two parking spaces for Samaritan House staff- a long overdue need. The intention is to convert the space into a food-forest where people can enjoy a safe and inclusive space to relax and be in their community. Food-forests are areas planted with mostly edibles and aim to mimic real forests making it more sustainable and self-sufficient, requiring much less maintenance than a regular garden. The design of the forest garden and programming plan will be based on the concepts and ethics of Permaculture.
Permaculture is a design method that guides the creation of easily manageable landscapes that produce food, nurture healthy human interactions, and reduce the consumption of environmentally unfriendly resources such as pesticide. Permaculture seeks to promote and nurture three foundational ethics; Care of Land, Care of People and Care of Process (redistribution of surplus and cooperation).
A plan for design and implementation put forth by the Mid-Island Youth and Community Development Co-op (MYCDC) has been drafted and approved by the Association. On July 16th, as part of the 1st Phase of the project, a charrette exercise took place to gather information and ideas for the design of the green space. This was the first of several meetings that will take place with stakeholders in the participatory process of the design of the site. Present at this meeting were the SECA executive and interested community members. The group did a field trip to the site for an envisioning exercise and was asked to answer several questions. A copy of the project plan and questionnaire can be found through the following link: Samaritan House Green Space Project Plan and Questionnare 2014. Please feel free to send us your ideas. Below are some of the answers we received.
When asked about what values people would like the green space to foster, many responded, safety and community. Others added sustainability, inclusiveness, visibility, comfort, inviting, creativity. These values were compatible with people’s core values for community development, such as safety, openness, sense of community, beauty, creativity, food security, inclusiveness, inviting, collaborative, social, sense of ownership, active participation, gathering, care and connection.
As part of the envisioning exercise, we asked participants to imagine how the place could look like after we develop it. We asked them to describe what they would like to see. Two participants saw lighting along the path going through the lot, others described how it would be cleaner, with branches cut and cleared. Other visualized how to make the space more sustainable by creating sun traps, rainwater loops with a solar pump, as well as collecting rainwater from the slope and off the neighbors roof. Someone suggested the garden have a Scottish feel with heaths and grouse, and another envisioned a shelter space for gatherings.
Through the imagining exercise the garden came to life- people saw nut trees, apple trees, flowers, berries, public art installations, benches-seating area (including cob benches), educational signage about the park, plants (plant map) and the history of Haliburton, herbs, perennials, food or herb plantings, trees, fragrant plants, paths, bees, butterflies, birds, poems and art on the fences, kiosk, stones around the maple tree, drought tolerant rosk and more. Many of the participants drew on a map of the site. Feel free to download and draw on a map yourself and send it back to SECA to be part of this process!
According to the group what were some of the most important things for the overall site development were safety, a pathway, relaxing atmosphere, welcoming aesthetics, low maintenance, watering free, screen away cars from lot, promotion of inspiration, a vision, connection to nature. People envisioned this space being used for leisure, community, food, a rest stop for some water, learning about food, quiet contemplation, sitting and picking fruit, gathering, corridor for transportation, plant stock reserve for their gardens, connection with other gardens/food forests.
Finally, we discussed long-term use and the maintenance plan of the site. Some ideas on this were community gatherings, food source, use of perennials for sustainability purposes, fall and spring work parties to encourage community involvement and participation, Samaritan House to do general upkeep.
Thank you and please send in your questionnaires and maps to
Samaritan House Green Space Project Plan and Questionnare 2014