Vacant and underutilized lots can become an eyesore. For the most part, they lay bare, except for stray litter that blows in and finds its forever home.

Paul Farquhar has come up with a remedy: turn that land into gardens for community members to use.

“There is this kind of disconnect between a lot of newcomers and refugees and just general Canadians. It got me thinking about something that people could get their hands on and pull people in, pull people together and get them meeting each other,” said Farquhar.  

This year, Farquhar said he wants to get landowners interested and start turning lots into gardens. The landowner would still own the land, but the community would take care of it.

“Essentially, when there is a garden, there isn’t any grass to cut or maintain. We would pick up any bottles or trash,” said Farquhar. Their ideal plot would be anything that “isn’t too rocky, but anything that is flat, grassy, or dirty.”

As opposed to a community garden, Farquhar said he would like to keep the cost of these gardens down. “For community gardens, the city generally owns the land and they let you use it. Or you use the land at a community league. So, they only have so much land. Lots of them already have gardens and there are usually fees associated with that.” Because of this, it becomes inaccessible to those without much money.

Farquhar said ideally there would be no cost to those who wish to garden, but added, “I think we will probably have to get some cost looked after in terms of tools and equipment, but whether that be through donations by people looking to garden, or just general fundraising, [that] isn’t quite clear yet.”

Future gardeners would likely provide their own seeds, but if enough people want the same thing, the seeds may be provided. Farquhar added that he hopes to be able to provide tools.

The gardens would be available to everyone. Contact Paul Farquhar at for more information.

Feature image: Paul Farquhar wants to turn some of the area’s vacant lots into gardens. | Stephen Strand