Nova Scotia

Digging up a new location for Common Roots proving to be difficult

It’s not clear if the Common Roots Urban Farm in Halifax will have a new location in time for next growing season.

Halifax urban farm must move to make way for hospital redevelopment project

Common Roots Urban Farm is right outside an emergency room on Robie Street in Halifax. After this year the farm will need to move. (CBC)

It's not clear if the Common Roots Urban Farm in Halifax will have a new location in time for next growing season.

In its seventh season, the site on land next to the Halifax Infirmary has become a community hub and gathering place for people looking to grow their own food, socialize and for newcomers looking to become more connected to the community.

But with the redevelopment project for the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre underway, Nova Scotia Health Authority officials have informed farm operators they need to reclaim the space at the end of this season in November.

'Not a small task to find a place'

Jane Davies, executive director of Partners for Care, the agency that operates the farm, could not say for sure if the farm will be in operation in time for next growing season.

"I don't know the answer to that question, I really don't," she said. "It's not a small task to find a place, I will admit to that, for sure."

Davies said an advisory committee comprised of farm volunteers is working on a new location, but so far one has not been secured.

Davies said she couldn't get into details about the locations being considered, but said the advisory group thinks that a future location would continue to be on the Halifax peninsula.

"I've encouraged them not to let any opportunities go by because of that particular criteria, but I think there is a hope that we can find something on the peninsula."

Davies said she's aware how important a location on the peninsula is for those who require transit to participate. A recent public engagement survey highlighted the desire to remain in the area, with locations such as the former St. Pat's High School location or Gorsebrook Field often mentioned, she said.

"Those are ideas that the community identified, but for right now they are just ideas."

Common Roots Urban Farm allows people to grow their own food and serves as a community gathering site. (CBC)

Jayme Melrose, who finished as project director in April but remains a member of the farm's advisory committee, said there's one space in particular that "feels really possible."

"There's so many moving pieces, so it's hard to be really confident, but some people have stepped forward that makes it feel possible."

Melrose doesn't think it's crucial for the farm to remain on the peninsula.

She said responses to the engagement survey showed people were open to other areas as long as the accessibility and gathering-space aspects of the current farm are preserved. She noted many of the farm's users live in the Fairview area.

The hope is to have an update about the process posted on the farm's website by the end of next week. Melrose said she's committed to helping find a new home for Common Roots.

"I see the public support, I see how many people respect and love that farm."

About the Author

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

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