Open Letter on the Planned Community Garden


As you may know there is a volunteer run Garden committee that is planning a proposed community garden in Hawkwood.  This is an open letter that the HCA Board submitted f or the September edition of the Hawkeye.  If you are looking for a summary of what is happening I think this will help.

Dear Hawkwood Residents,

In recent months the Hawkwood Community Association (HCA) Board has heard concerns relating to the proposed Community Garden, at the site at the top of Hawkwood Hill in the vicinity of the baseball diamond behind Hawkwood Village shopping district (City of Calgary Reference HAW014). More detailed information is available on our website (hawkwoodca.com/Garden). We would like to provide this general information about the Garden in the hope of addressing these concerns.

 

Why a Community Garden?

During March and April 2014 the HCA ran a publicly advertised and thorough community engagement process called “Our Hawkwood”. Over 400 people contributed their perspective both online and in-person at Churches, both Schools and the Uplands Rec. Centre. Detailed survey findings and analysis are complete and a final report is being drafted at this time.

A Community Garden is specifically identified in Our Hawkwood as something a dramatic number of respondents would both use and volunteer with and is seen to contribute to the community goals identified in “Our Hawkwood”. The HCA Board considers this a clear mandate from the Residents of Hawkwood to evaluate the possibility of a Community Garden. Experienced volunteers have graciously come forward to sit on the Garden Committee which is charged with designing and proposing a Garden that meets the needs & wants identified by the “Our Hawkwood” engagement project, addressing the concerns of Residents, the City, and the environment.

 

Planning Phase

The proposed Hawkwood Community Garden is in a planning phase.

The Garden Committee is working to design a garden that will meet our community’s needs. This will likely incorporate planter boxes, trees and other plants, pathways, benches and refuse bins as appropriate.

The proposed location has been selected in consultation with the City of Calgary Parks Department. The Ward 2 Councilor’s office has been briefed on the Hawkwood Garden initiative. While no site is “perfect”, HAW014 is close to schools, has appropriate sun exposure, is on existing pathway networks, has water access, and nearby road access, and is reasonably central within Hawkwood. In fact HAW014 meets the criteria set forth by the Calgary Horticultural Society for placing such a Garden.

When a draft plan is submitted to the HCA Board for consideration, the Board will publish information on our website, and in meeting minutes. Information will also be circulated in the Hawkeye.

 

Moving Forward

The process to make this sort of addition to a Calgary community is well understood. Once a plan is tabled at the HCA Board meeting, the Garden Committee will conduct a survey for Residents with a “line of sight” to the proposed Garden. This has not yet happened because there are no designs to discuss.

Additional investigations will take place including soil sampling, site inspections, etc. A budget will be prepared and submitted to the HCA Board for consideration.

 

Concerns Raised

Some Residents have raised the following concerns regarding the proposed Community Garden:

  1. Spoiling of the landscape and associated views in the area
  2. Long-Term plan for Garden maintenance
  3. Impact on users of the location (walkers, dog owners, baseball players)
  4. Impact on adjacent land owners
  5. Parking & Access
  6. Vandalism and Crime
  7. Wildlife (Coyotes)

Given that there is no design for a Community Garden before the Board we encourage all Residents to reserve their judgment until plans are tabled. This project must be beneficial to the residents of Hawkwood in order to proceed. In order to do so, issues like those raised above must be suitably addressed in the garden’s plan, construction, and operation/maintenance over time. The Hawkwood Garden volunteer Committee has access to a wealth of community garden planning and operation experience, and support from expert resources. Many of the issues above can be compensated for with appropriate design.

Additionally, many of the issues cited above are addressed in the Frequently Asked Questions component of the HCA Garden website (hawkwoodca.com/Garden/GardenFAQ).

The land occupied by the Garden will remain a multi-use area that will support the same style of outdoor activities that are carried out there today, with the notable exception of the baseball diamond.

While it is likely not possible to satisfy all stakeholders in the design and potential implementation of a community garden in Hawkwood, both the Garden Committee and the Hawkwood Community Association Board are committed to a process that addresses meaningfully and thoroughly the concerns Residents may have with a Community Garden.

Thank-you for your interest in the Hawkwood Community Garden. We look forward to the Garden Committee’s proposal in the coming months.

 

Sincerely,

Kevan Newman, President – Hawkwood Community Association     President@hawkwoodca.com

Adrian Harding, Vice-President Hawkwood Community Association     VP@hawkwoodca.com

Members of the Hawkwood Community Garden Committee     Garden@hawkwoodca.com

If you are interested in volunteering with the HCA please contact us or visit our website www.hawkwoodca.com or contact the Vice President.