In August 2009 we depaved 12 parking spaces, totaling 4500 square feet of asphalt, to create new garden space. This was done under the sponsorship of City Repair’s depave.org. This space has subsequently been turned into a 3,200 sq ft circular garden for annual food crops, with perimeter areas reserved for rain gardens, wildlife habitat, berry and grape production, space for cucurbit gardens, space for a neighborhood interface with bulletin board and seating for tea, and a courtyard for the community room.

The photos below show the depave process, starting with the front yard early Summer 2009. The depave areas were marked, following the schematic, then cut into aspahalt “tiles” one week before the big event. 8 dumpsters were rented to contain all the asphalt that was anticipated to be removed.

The day of the big event volunteers showed up bright and early. We had great weather. After warm ups and a group photo, participants launched into the parking lot demolition with gusto. Starting from the north end, we moved our way south, loading up dumpster after dumpster.

Even after the day wrapped up, there was still lots to do. Besides the parking lot, we wanted to depave a small area just outside unit 1 and a narrow strip along the south parking lot fence. The latter would allow us to grow a strip of vegetation that could climb the fence and really green this section of pavement. (It is now planted in bluebells and grape vines.)

You can see from the last photos we also removed a fair amount of “urbanite” and eventually a pickup load more of asphalt from all the perimeter areas.

You never know what you will find under a parking lot. We discovered an old house foundation! Which created a lot more work to excavate and remove the foundation.

See the ecovillage slide show for the dramatic before and after photos of the front yard when it was a parking lot and several years later where it is in full bloom with the circular food garden, full of potatoes, sweet corn, leeks, legumes, and cucurbits.

Of course, we are delighted how it turned out. We hope many others will do similar projects. After all, there is way too much pavement in the world. We need to reclaim these areas and create new gardens!

Note: our eventual goal is to depave most of the remaining car parking, reserving space only for community vehicles, bikes, and vehicle access to the building entrance for deliveries!