Sowing the seeds of Community.
Written by Amy Lou Taylor for The Point Newspaper Late Summer 2017
It all began with the desire to grow our own garlic. In the Autumn of 2014, my husband and I realised that we just didn’t have enough room in our home gardens to grow any food. We had never grown our own food before, except maybe for some pot tomatoes and with my being a herbalist and horticulturalist, our gardens were more geared towards Ontario Native plants, medicinal herbs and specimen plants.
So we began the search for an allotment garden. Having seen many allotment or Community gardens while visiting family in England, we figured there had to be some here. Having done a bit of research we found that victory/allotment/community gardens have been a thing in Canada (starting in Montreal) since the mid to late 1800s. Having searched locally, we soon discovered the Hamilton Community Garden Network (HGCN) which gives maps and details of where these gardens are and how to join.
We were fortunate to find the Gage Park Community Garden (GPCG) and by getting on the waiting list, our wait was short because that year there were several fallow plots in the garden waiting for owners.
So, off we went and what welcomed us was a fellow gardener and GPCG committee member, Jarah West who was giving the orientation to new gardeners that were also going to rent plots. The plots are a good size to work with, on average 10×8 feet, which was more than enough for our garlic and other vegetables. Because of our gardening experience, we chose a very neglected plot, full of bindweed and couchgrass, but what sold me was the sunflowers growing wild there. My husband and I cleaned and cleaned that plot, three yard waste bags full of weeds. Brought some compost from home to fortify the soil and then planted our garlic. Over the winter we figured our what else we wanted to try with our great food experiment.
Our first year we tried all sorts of stuff, we had our garlic, but also grew peas, beans, onions, radishes, beets, carrots and way too many tomatoes! And might I add, we had no idea what we were doing! There are some amazing and experienced gardeners who also have plots at the GPCG who are so helpful, Bev Wagar, Kathleen Livingston are just two whose names you might recognise! When the garden has an over abundance of vegetables we donate to the Good Shepherd and to Erichs Cupboard.
The GPCG is a fully organic garden which means we don’t use any chemicals in the garden space. GPCG is also changing and growing along with new committee members and a wonderful bunch of people who enjoy the challenge of growing food in an urban setting. We have a community herb bed which is available to all GPCG members, we have workshops a couple times a year as well as regular general meetings and garden clean up days that also double as potlucks. As a garden member you are expected to pitch in and do 10 hours of volunteering your time throughout the growing season to help maintain the gardens. To rent a plot you need to sign a renters agreement which also outlines rules and regs and pay a fee of $35. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Gage Park Community Garden, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the waiting list. You can also join the Friends of Gage Park Community Garden group on Facebook to find out when we are looking for new members or volunteer opportunities.
Oh, you may be wondering what our food experiment this year may be in our garden plots? The Three Sisters of corn, beans and squash as well as horseradish and cauliflower! Happy Gardening!!
About Amy Taylor:
Amy is a business owner in Crown Point East, a member of the Crown Point Garden Club, the 2017 Winner for the Monarch awards and is also an avid organic gardener as well as a committee member and treasurer for the Gage Park Community Garden.