Wanted: a garden to call our own

Eco-group looks to build a community garden in Ward 13

About 100 community gardens in Toronto produce over $1 million worth of produce each year.

However, residents in Bloor West are feeling left out of the garden party.

“We don’t really have a community garden here in ward 13,” said Rita Bijons, the new chair for Green 13, a local environmental group.
“The city has mandated that each ward should have at least one community garden.”

There are 11 wards in the city that are without a community garden and members of Green 13 are hoping to ensure that their ward is no longer one of them.

Green 13 was created three years ago when one resident, Chris Holcroft, decided to organize a candlelight walk to commemorate Earth Day.

“Out of that walk what we realized is there are a lot of people who care about environmental issues and particularly climate change,” Bijons said.

“Chris started collecting names of people who were interested in starting up an environmental group because nothing like that existed in Ward 13.”

Since its creation, the group has been working to raise awareness of environmental issues in the area.

It is now focused on bringing a community garden and a farmers’ market to the ward.

“We’re at a very early stage but there are spots in the ward that would lend themselves to a community garden, and I think more than one,” Bijons said.

Members of Green 13’s core group, all volunteers, have been working closely with Livegreen Toronto to further their environmental cause.

Last November, Green 13 partnered with Live green to hold a town hall style meeting with residents.

This November, the two groups held another town hall meeting to discuss the planning and details of the idea.

“The feedback we got from people was they were really excited and they wanted to do something,” said Whitney Crooks, a community animator for Livegreen Toronto.

“Two topics that are close to people’s hearts are community gardens and farmers’ markets.”

Community gardens differ from allotment gardens in that the space, work and finished product are shared.

In allotment gardens, individuals pay a fee to use a certain area of the garden.

“It’s not like one person has one delineated piece of land,” Bijons said.

“It’s the whole community caring for the land and sharing the produce.”

Bijons said that the produce grown in the garden will most likely be donated to people in need.

“We’re not at that stage yet, but we’re certainly aware of all kinds of programs in Ward 13 to which we could donate, happily,” Bijons said.

About this article:

By: Tristan Carter
Posted: Nov 29 2010 10:06 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto