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Land in Deep Cove known as Noble Garden donated as teaching garden

Longtime resident Sandra Mae Holloway left the land to the district, saying she wanted it to be available as a teaching garden and orchard
The donation includes two adjacent properties in Deep Cove that total 1.2 acres.

The District of North Saanich has received a donation of land from the estate of a long-time resident to be kept as a teaching garden.

Sandra Mae Holloway left two adjacent properties in Deep Cove, together about 1.2 acres, to the district, as well as $75,000. One parcel fronts Wain Road and is partially fenced. It’s maintained in a natural state except for vegetable garden plots, the district said.

The second parcel, at 10819 Madrona Dr., contains a tool shed and an orchard of fruit trees. Neither property has a residence.

Holloway left the land, which is referred to as the Noble Garden in the community, to the district in her will, saying she wanted the lots to be available as a teaching garden and orchard.

The Noble Garden has been a destination for garden club tours over the years, the district said.

The land is currently managed by the Circular Food and Farm Society of Vancouver Island, which also manages the district’s Sandown Agricultural Lands, 83 acres that were transferred to the district in 2017 to be used for sustainable food production.

The society is maintaining the gardens and orchard in partnership with Camosun College’s horticulture program and its young farmer program.

Council approved a short-term maintenance plan for the property Monday evening, which involves formalizing an agreement with the society. The plan gives the district time to explore longer term plans for the property through community engagement and talks with the society, the district said.

Staff expect to report back on a long-term plan, including financial implications for the district, next year. The money left to the district by Holloway’s estate will be used for ongoing maintenance of the gardens.

Mayor Peter Jones said he’s happy the land is being transferred to the district.

“It’s lands that has been small agriculture for many, many years, and will continue in that vein,” he said.

Holloway spent most of her life in the Greater Victoria region, except for a brief period in the 60s when she lived in London, England, according to her obituary. She was an avid gardener and field hockey player, and was selected to play for Canada at one point. She attended St. Margaret’s School from kindergarten to Grade 12 and later served on the school’s board.