Community Garden Network Season-End Meeting & Meal

The Centre Wellington Community Garden Network celebrated the end of the gardening season with a mealtime gathering at Bungalow 55, in Elora, on November 29, 2016. The meal was a feast of vegetables, pulses and stews prepared with great care by local chef Peter Skoggard and sous-chef Debbie Reynolds. Around a makeshift harvest table, 16 people shared stories, wishes, ideas and plans for next years’ garden. Representatives from 6 of the 8 community gardens were in attendance along with members of the Social Justice Group and associates from the local agricultural and farming community.

Paul extended greetings from Fred Alecksandrowicz and Jackie Andrews of the Food Bank. Neither had been able to attend, but they wished they had been able to. The Community Garden Network was significantly aided this year with a grant obtained by the Food Bank from Food Banks Canada and the Compass Group Canada.

During the discussion there was a unanimous desire to have more people involved in community gardens. Kellianne talked about the importance of the bench at St. James Community Garden as an invitation for gardeners and neighbours – and potential gardeners – to come and sit and join in. Other gardeners and different ways of gardening are an integral part of a community garden.

Trish made the point that in urban and densely populated areas people seek out shared spaces and are more exposed to the concept of community gardens; in our community, straddling urban and rural, this may not be so.
Sharon reported that she continues to struggle to find gardeners to take plots at Gryphon Community Garden since those plots seem to be perceived to be part of the Elora public school.

Michelle was appreciative of all the room she had at the Food School Community Garden plots until the weeds got ahead of her, and she said that sharing the space would be much better.

At the Thyme with God Community Garden at Melville United, they dreamed of, and erected, a decorative arbour to draw attention to what they are doing and gather more interest and support.

The chief idea discussed was the desire to share among the Community Gardens.

As well, there was discussion about practical challenges such as water, weeds, and what to grow, and these do not appear to be barriers to moving forward. Corey and his support group at the new Central Pentecostal Community Garden bravely turned the soil in the summer, did what was needed to access water to the site and are taking it one step at a time to build community through their gardens.

Theme gardens were talked about as ways to connect people to a garden plot. One idea was a pesto garden, growing basil, garlic and sunflowers. A pizza garden was another idea growing peppers, tomatoes, onions and what have you to top your pizza.

Mulching, composting and weed management were touched upon and the sharing of horticultural practices a notable need amongst the network. Weeds, the work involved (perceived or otherwise) in tending a garden, and the lack of know how is thought to play a role in people’s ability and willingness to embrace community gardening.

One promotional idea was to organize a Community Garden tour next season to showcase what we have. Each garden was given a sign, designed by Paul from the Social Justice Group and funded by the grant from the Food Banks Canada and the Compass Group Canada. These colourful signs unify the group and provide contact information to promote community gardens in Centre Wellington. The grant also provided composted manure to all the gardens, irrigation supplies, building material for raised beds and a garden structure, perennial plants and apple trees.

Another idea for promoting the gardens is for a representative from each Community Garden to write up a short story or description of this year’s activities, and post them on the website.

At the dessert course a mason jar of whipping cream was passed from person to person each taking their turn to shake it up and have it whipped for the pie coming out of the oven. It was a symbolic finish to demonstrate what can be achieved when we all work together!

The Community Garden Network
St. James Community Garden 100 Queen St. East Fergus
Bungalow 55 on Geddes in Elora
Gryphon Gardens at the Elora Public School
Thyme with God, Melville United Church, Fergus
Community Garden @ Wellington Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (near the SportsPlex, Fergus)
Little Tree Nursery, Hwy 6 North of Fergus
Faith Lutheran Church near JD Hogarth School
Central Pentecostal Church, Between Fergus and Elora on Colborne Street