Little Free Plant Stands sprout in Colwood

A new community movement has taken root with three Little Free Plant Stands sprouting in Colwood, with more to come.

The stands, stocked with free plants and seeds, are at Herm Williams Park at the corner of Kelly and Adye Road, at 555 Langholme Dr. and at 3283 Galloway Rd.

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They are the brainchild of Jo Neufeld, who took up gardening in a big way after spending a year at home due to COVID-19 and health issues.

The idea of the stands was inspired, in part, by the little free libraries that have popped up around Greater Victoria.

“I moved from a basement suite to a house with a greenhouse last year,” said Neufeld. “Just before COVID-19 hit, I was off work with a mental-health issue, so I spent most of my summer outdoors, hiking and gardening.”

She soon found herself with more plants than she had space on her property to plant. She sold some and gave away as much as she could.

At the end of 2020, the City of Colwood announced its Create Places Colwood initiative, which invited residents to come up with projects that would bring neighbours together and foster a sense of community pride.

Neufeld applied and her proposal was one of four the city approved. She received a $500 grant, with a requirement that she match it with volunteer labour, donated services and materials.

Neufeld solicited the help of her handyman husband, Harvey, and friends Brittany Miller, Joslyn McDonald and Ashley Hollier to build the three stands.

The stands officially opened on April 20.

“The stand has exceeded my expectations and we are getting a lot of people,” said Neufeld. “Some people, but not all, leave plants in return for the ones they take. I can’t be sure, as some get snagged right away.”

She and her friends will keep the stands stocked. Right now, you can find jalapeño peppers, pea and zucchini seedlings, as well as strawberries and spider plants. She also includes packets of seeds.

Expect to find more heat-loving plants that are sensitive to a sudden cold snap, such as tomatoes, sometime around the May long weekend.

She hopes to announce the location of a fourth Little Free Plant Stand at the same time.

The permit for locating the stand at Herm Williams Park expires in September, but there is hope that, if it proves popular, it may be extended. The other stands are on private property and will likely be able to operate seasonally.

Over the last few weeks, Neufeld has been busy fielding calls from others who want to replicate her success.

“It’s been a labour of love.”

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