The Great Food Experiment.

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 gageparkgarden@gmail.com 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.

 

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Season Four has Begun!

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The winter was long and hard, and spring might have been late but the growing season has arrived. The urban gardeners have emerged and the earth has been turned over.

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The raspberries survived the cold with no troubles, and only a few herbs were lost to winter-kill.

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The compost is slowly breaking down, the plots are filling with some resting to replenish nutrients for future seasons.

Spring is here, rapidly moving towards summer.

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Tomato Time

Finally the tomatoes have begun to ripen!

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Many gardeners have had ripe tomatoes for a week or two, but I have been waiting, barely patient.

On Sunday we harvested our first delicious BrandyWines, so worth the wait.  

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Now the challenge will be to keep up.

The Great Mystery of Gardening

Today I was at the garden, to see if my tomatoes were turning, I am anticipating the taste of garden tomatoes so much.  I grew up with garden tomatoes, all the usual varieties, only veering into heritage varieties in the last 10 years.

What I didn’t grow up with were root vegetables home-grown.  

Last year I tried carrots for the first time, with mixed and strange-looking results.

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This year I was encouraged to try again, and I am so glad I did.  Although I wish I had tried the Okra some gardeners have, or the melons, I am excited about my carrots.  The anticipation of pulling, wondering if it will be straight or crooked.  Will it be wormy?  Things that grow under the earth are mysterious.  

I am pleased to report, that so far my 2013 carrots have been straight and mostly beautiful.  

How has your garden been growing?

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Summer 2013 is Growing Well

After a slow and wet start, this gardening season is well under way. We have many returning gardeners and some new faces in the garden, and it has been great seeing people out watering, harvesting and weeding.

There have been more than our share of weeds.  Last Saturday some brave souls met to attempt to clear some of them from the fallow plots and pathways.

My intention is to blog weekly, and upload photos as a kind of visual garden journal.  If any other members would like to submit an entry, please email it to:  gageparkgarden[at]hotmail[dot]com  and I will upload it.

My name is Lois and I am 2nd year gardener at Gage Park Community Garden. I came to the garden because of a shady, tiny back yard with aggressive squirrels. So far they haven’t followed me to the park.

Some photos from Canada Day:

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Fall Clean-up

Hello Everyone,

We will be doing our last work day at the garden on November the 18th from 12 noon until about 3 or 4pm. We’ll be tearing down the rest of the community plots as well as the plots of those who have not cleaned up their plots by then. We have ordered loaner equipment from the Hamilton Community Garden Network so we’ll have all the equipment we might need.

Date: Sunday November 18th

Time: Noon until 3 or 4pm

Mulberry Stick Hoop House Experiment

Gardener Greg is extending the growing season with his custom built mulberry stick hoop house.
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The following images will provide a glimpse of what was involved in the construction from start to finish.
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At the time of this writing, the eve of Frankenstorm Sandy, the mulberry stick hoop house is still intact. Inside are planted peas, lettuce, spinach and radish. There are also a couple tomato plants that survived the killer frost with ripening fruit on the vine, some radish and carrot going to seed and even a flame lettuce plant that has already gone to seed producing new leaves.