Magic Roundabout: Community food production in underused areas

Magic Roundabout designers Lori Greyll (Left), Brian Krafchik (Right) and Julie Thomson (Bottom). Photo: Ley Doctor

The Magic Roundabout is a pilot project for growing community food in underused areas of city land like traffic circles, ditches and other forgotten gardens in the making.

Four Langara students in the college’s Permaculture Design course designed the Magic Roundabout,  named after a U.K. children’s show.

It is situated at the corner of Nanaimo Street and East 45 Avenue.

Three of the students, Lori Greyll, Julie Thomson and Brian Krafchik were at the Magic Roundabout as a part of the Sustenance Festival last Saturday.

Sustenance Festival in Vancouver

The Sustenance Festival is hosting various events around the city and runs from Oct. 11 to 21.

Some events include a weed eating workshop, cheese making and a presentation on green household cleaners.

Permaculture is the concept that everything we create and use should be sustainable or regenerate.

“You want to make sure it goes back in the system,” said Greyll. “It’s a cycle.”

The quartet then took their idea to Green Streets, a group that aims to brighten up our city by supplying grants to fund different sustainable concepts and projects throughout Canada.

 Making the roundabout magic

After getting funding in June, the project was developed over the summer.

The traffic circle was dug about a metre deep. Young children of the community came together to help with planting and painted two cute signs explaining the project.

“All the kids were involved in digging and tasting,” said Krafchik.

“It teaches kids about gardening,” said Greyll.

Roundabout cooking

The nearby Nancy Styles Hall uses many of the herbs grown on the roundabout for cooking and nutrition classes.

“They learn about food security,” said Greyll. “They use the herbs from the garden and make different freezer foods.”

Yarrow, oregano, strawberries, chives and tarragon are some of the plants growing on the traffic circle. Most of the sprouts are perennials that can grow year round and are expected to grow during the fall and winter.

“It’s a demonstration of what we could potentially do,” said Krafchik.

The group hopes to have three sites set up by next year, all located in south Vancouver.

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Photos and story by Ley Doctor

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