Identifying land for community gardens in the City of Victoria: exploring the process of creating and conducting an urban agriculture land inventory




Sauter, Jennifer Anne

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The City of Victoria is experiencing increased food insecurity due to its location on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and a lack of food production in the city. The practice of urban agriculture presents a potential solution, enhancing food security by localizing resources, while increasing access and participation with local food production. Based on urban agriculture land inventories (UALIs) conducted in Portland, Vancouver and Nanaimo, my research evaluates and develops site selection criteria specific to Victoria for conducting a community garden land inventory focused on identifying land for allotment and commons gardens. I also examine the underlying barriers or supports for allotting land to urban agriculture in Victoria. To generate site selection criteria and explore the barriers and supports, I conducted interviews with urban agriculture experts, including city planners; community garden activists, educators and individuals involved in non-profits, and urban producers engaged in urban food production. The site selection criteria were further assessed as primary criteria for their application in GIS or secondary criteria to be considered during site visits. The final primary site selection criteria were land use and type, water availability (within 6.8 m), proximity to density users (within 400 m), minimum size thresholds of 1189.2 m2 for allotment gardens and 139.4 m2 for commons gardens, and excluding buildings, heritage designations, and protected green space. The analysis of the primary criteria resulted in a map illustrating 248 potential sites for community gardens in Victoria, whereby 213 were only suitable for commons gardens and 35 were suitable for allotment or commons gardens due to the larger size threshold. Four of the resulting sites were ground-truthed using site visits, and had medium to high potential for community gardens. The site visits documented secondary criteria, including proximity to community hub or prominent location, sunlight, ecologically sensitive area, cedar trees, and pollinator habitat or vegetation. Highlights from the interviews included identifying the most influential factors to allotting land to urban agriculture: the perception and awareness of urban agriculture, the community, the politics of City Council and staff support, and the costs or financial supports associated with community gardens. Overall, this research provides a model for the decision making process behind establishing an UALI, and contributes to understanding the challenges to allotting land to agriculture in the urban environment.



urban agriculture, food security, land inventory, community gardens, Victoria, urban planning