Making a Community Garden

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Parkdale, the neighborhood where I have made my home for most of my adult life houses approximately 75% of its residents in apartments with 38% residing in high-rise towers without access to outdoor space. This neighbourhood is incredibly diverse with people hailing from literally all over the world. It’s an excellent example why Toronto is lauded as the most multicultural city in the world and why I love it here so much. But with so many people living on low incomes and without outdoor space, we desperately need food-growing gardens that serve the needs of this community.

Over the last month or so I’ve been involved with an exciting innitiative in my neighborhood to build a community garden in an underused park next to the local community centre. It’s not a huge garden and demand for space is high, but the hope is that the success of one such garden will open up the possibility for many more in this area.

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This past weekend marked the official groundbreaking of the garden. The City gave us two options to get the garden started: they would remove the sod with a cutting machine or rototill the entire area. From the start the group has established a mandate to be as ecologically sound as possible, our goal being to create an environment that cultivates the health of the neighborhood. As a result we opted for the less invasive sod removal method. We would have loved to have simply composted the grass in place (sometimes called sod conversion) however time is not on our side this time around. Rolling up the sod means we can control how much the soil is cultivated, preserving the health of the soil and keeping as much nutritional matter intact as possible. We were also concerned that rototilling would result in grass popping up in plots within a few weeks.

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We saved some of the sod to form rows between plots and gave the rest away to locals who needed it.

I am really excited to be a part of such a great project and can’t wait to see how it evolves and grows in the coming weeks and most especially once the gardens are planted and on their way to making food and building relationships within the community.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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8 thoughts on “Making a Community Garden

  1. Gayla -

    This is a wonderful thing that you’re doing. I can’t wait to see how it goes. Keep us updated!

  2. I’m excited for you! I’ve been dying to do something like this in my town…but it’s not like anyone needs any extra land (I do live in suburbia, everyone has a backyard), but I think what we are missing is a sense of community and I think a garden would help.

    Thanks for being such and inspiration!

  3. Just to be clear I am only one person involved within a large group of people who are donating their time to make this happen. There is a surprisingly large number of people involved in every area from policy-making to building to event management.

  4. This is such a great idea. I recently moved to Parkdale and am very lucky to have some garden space to plant veggies this summer. It’s a great neighbourhood…can’t wait to visit the new community garden!

  5. that’s really cool! I wish my neighborhood would do a community garden…except we’re not that much of a ‘community.’ Speaking of neighborhoods, Parkdale is the name of my neighborhood too!!! How wierd is that?!?

  6. wow! very very neat. hmmmm.. there are several vacant lots in a low income neighborhood…. i’m gonna call the mayor monday. thanks for the idea :D

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