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Community Gardens in Canada

It's summer time and people of all ages are pretty excited to be outdoors after a long and hard winter. If you are in Canada, one fantastic way to get outside and connect with nature during spring and summer is to take part in community gardening in the neighborhood. Community gardens have become very popular in Canada and has been garnering a lot of public participation over the last few years. Considering the major cities in Canada, there are approximately 242 community gardens in Toronto, 200 in Calgary, 115 in Ottawa, 110 in Vancouver and 100 in Montreal. 

Community gardens are set up in city parks, city owned lands and private lands and are completely managed by gardeners themselves, without any professional assistance. The garden could be divided into plots and allocated to individuals (on first come, first serve basis) or can be communal, where everyone works together on the whole garden. In these type of gardens, vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowering plants will be grown, focusing on food production; than growing ornamental plants as seen in parks. A community gardens' reap could be open to everyone or is grown exclusively to donate to food banks or could be only for owner’s consumption. 

These community gardens can be run by non-profit organizations, schools, churches, municipalities, individual land owners, community associations etc. If you wish to start and manage one, it is definitely possible, however it involves a lot of planning and effort. With a group of enthusiasts and a plan in place, you may contact your regional community garden network board to set up the garden. Otherwise, you can partake in a neighborhood garden by registering with them.

Community gardening has innumerable benefits for both the individual and society. It offers a wonderful chance to connect with nature; a space to grow plants for those living in smaller spaces; a platform to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds; learn and share knowledge about plants and gardening; use unutilized land and cultivate organic vegetables, fruits and herbs; improve environment by enhancing air and soil quality and bio-diversity; provide physical activity and relieves stress and thereby improving overall well-being; reduce wastage by converting them into compost and the list goes on.

Last month, we visited a community garden run by Country Hills Park in Kitchener, Ontario. This garden is open to public, however priority is given to those living within the country hills community. They have more than 70 plots of different sizes starting from 4 ft x 4 ft, 4ft x 12ft, 10ft x 12ft and 16ft x 16ft and each plot is rented at $5-$35 an year. They have specially put up few raised garden beds for kids. Along with the land, they provide water, compost and tools. 

If we rent a plot, apart from tending to our plot, we have to join one of the groups to maintain the garden by removing weeds time-to-time, laying and maintaining mulch, preparing compost and growing food for local food banks. After harvesting, the plot owners can donate excess produce to food banks or leave in the food baskets for others to help themselves.

Photo taken at Country Hills Community Garden on 15th May 2022

Photo taken at Country Hills Community Garden on 1st June 2022

Cupboard at garden to hold free produce

This garden had lots of vegetables, fruits and flowering plants, few of them had already germinated and grown couple of inches. It was a pleasant sight to find many kids enthusiastically assisting their adults. This is a great way to teach young ones about farming, the effort involved in producing food and instill the value of food.

I met a plot owner who lives in a nearby apartment. Though she is very fond of plants, she wasn't able to grow them at home as her balcony doesn't get enough sunlight. She was obviously delighted when the garden was started here and had been associated with it since then. She was appreciative of the couple who started this garden and their relentless efforts in shaping it over the last 2 years. One disappointing factor she quoted was people stealing away the produce. Last year, someone stole her fresh crop leaving her dejected after spending lot of time, effort and money. She wishes people could be sensible and don't do such acts in the future. Despite this, she has rented few plots this year too and is looking forward to a bountiful harvest. 

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If you wish to take a tour of the garden, do check out this video.





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