Friday, July 1, 2016: Happy Canada Day

Canada Day has been a day for planting. First I planted my Made in China flag among my herbs. And then I planted 10 Japanese eggplant seedlings in our newest gardening space at Vancouver Cohousing.

Our building plans called for a large community garden of almost 2,000 square feet on top of two one-storey homes. But we ran out of money. In fact, we went half a million dollars over budget. So, a number of things were cut.

One was furnishing the 6,500-square-foot, which we’ve managed to do anyway by pooling our resources. And thanks to Cam’s resourceful ingenuity, we now have the rooftop garden with a greenhouse.


He began by gathering wooden pallets from a Home Depot. But let Cam tell the story, as he did in an email to our community:

Vesanto and I would like to thank those who helped with the soil and work on the rooftop garden yesterday including Joe, Cyrena, Joanne, Tara, Heather and JM. Also thanks to Fabrice for inspiring and getting the roof top gardening started so well.

As you know the escalating cost during construction meant that the deck for the rooftop garden was scratched as the cost for deck and planters was approaching $30,000 to $40,000.
Those who like gardening were of course disappointed  as funds for a garden seemed far off. After consulting a variety of folks about a low cost solution I started looking around at community gardens and other low cost garden areas. The HOME Society manages 2 community gardens on borrowed land.
After getting on Craigslist it seemed clear that there was plenty of wood for free but it came in the form of pallets. There were also large plastic barrels which if sliced vertically could serve as light weight garden containers. Finally a WindSong friend who manages the Richmond Harvest recycling depot helped by arranging that we could pick up relatively inexpensive compost.
With an old van I began collecting pallets and barrels. We collected and moved up about 50 pallets. Again thanks for all the help with this upward mobility and 12 barrels (24 garden containers when split) so far. The patch work of many sized pallets were carefully placed on the roof using dense styrofoam under the pallets– the same as under our current decks.
After the pallets were up and we had many visitors including children, it became clear that children like the roof as well. This lea to a search for more wood to fill in the cracks in the pallets to make it as safe as possible. Some of this was found in our HOMES storage areas, some at Wood-Knot a social enterprise HOMES manages; and 2x4s were also sliced up (each 2×4 produced 5 pieces roughly 1.5×3/4 of an inch in size which is ideal for filling in the spaces in pallets).
At Windsong Cohousing we had many mini green houses in the gardens but I thought the upper garden might better lend itself to a single community greenhouse. Again using sliced 2x4s, cheap plastic, and some help on the roof, and consulting round the roof lines, we popped up a greenhouse on the weekend. Tomatoes and peppers tend to do better in a greenhouse and have an extended season. So far no slugs have discovered the roof garden.
We still have room for 50 more containers (25 barrels- I get 3 or 4 free containers every 2 weeks) Feel free to tour and to plant something or take potted plants up there. Beans, zuchinni, and squash should do well in full sun. For those who would like to plant up there, we would like to create a watering roateion; to start it will be hand watering. V
Vesanto has moved up number of plants (mainly peas, squash, and arugula) from the lower garden by the ramp. With a small crew of helpers (Joanne, Cyrena, Vesanto), these are looking good. The roof deck is a great place to relax, tan and appreciate sunsets on the 4 folding chairs. If you come up with children, please remember it is a garden and not a play area. Donnie has done a wonderful job of helping children get a appreciation of garden bounty in the lower gardens. Thanks to all the help and vision of folks like Colin and Donnie in setting the tone for low cost nutritious food. We have a few more pieces of plastic to hang on the green house. It will have roll up sides and some doors for easy ventilation.
I am very thankful for all of the help and support and encouragement. Please visit and enjoy the upper garden. Fell free to add enhancements–it is your garden.
Cam Dore


3 thoughts to “Friday, July 1, 2016: Happy Canada Day”

  1. Love what you folks are doing, especially your rooftop garden. Pallets are a great idea. Here at Plum Tree Court, a 6-unit affordable forever home for seniors, we have a community garden and one individual garden. The individual garden was grandmothered in when I came here almost 13 years ago. The much-amended soil is now full of home-made compost to which the neighbours have contributed. This year, even though I’ve reduced the space, I grow peas, potatoes, kale, garlic, zucchini, rhubarb, cabbage, climbing and bush beans, salad greens, raspberries, chard, peppers, tomatoes and the crowning glory – French artichokes. I also have a flower garden. I look forward to more of your posts, Lorne. They’re inspiring. Belated yet heartfelt Happy Canada Day to you, too.

    1. Hi Trysh. Your garden sounds amazingly diverse. I’m specializing in Japanese eggplant and Chinese broccoli (gai lan). We are composting some of our organic waste with the goal of handling it all. We’ve only been here four months but already our gardens are flourishing. Please come visit sometime when you’re in Vancouver. Give me a heads up and I see of there’s a vacancy in our two guest rooms. I’d love to catch up.

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