Funds to support Community Garden Network in 2017

Great news: new funding for the Community Garden Network!

We have been successful in receiving funding from the Ontario Association of Food Banks’ Feeding Fresh! Sysco Community Garden Program for 2017!

The proposal was based on the Community Garden Network experience in 2016, and the great season-end meal and meeting we had at Bungalow 55 in October.

We are planning our season-opener meeting on April 30, 1-3 pm @ Faith Lutheran Church, Fergus, when we can all get together to discuss the details of this year’s grant but here is a preview of the grant. There are 4 objectives for grant for the Community Garden Network in 2017:

  • increase awareness of community gardening;
  • increase participation in community gardening;
  • increase garden yields through education; and
  • increase garden yields by building capacity of the gardens
  • Increase awareness of community gardening
    This objective is future-looking – focused on planting the idea of community gardens across the community to possibly establish more gardens in 2018. It also supports objective #2 (below).

    We will be able to advertise and hold another “season opener” meeting for the public to bring together those who are curious and who are interested in community gardening.

    We will be able to hold a “community garden tour” (an idea from our season-end meeting in 2016) and invite the community to visit the 8 community gardens.

    We will be able to plant a couple of 3-tree “community orchards” in public spaces and post information signs promoting community gardens – and promoting the eating of the bounty from the trees!

    Finally, we will be able to host a season-end meeting to celebrate the growing season, and “harvest” and share the learnings from across all the gardens.

    Increase participation
    While we were successful in increasing our participation numbers last year, we believe we can do better.

    We will be able to advertise and hold a special recruitment drive for one of our gardens that had a hard time attracting gardeners last year.

    Though anticipation of the 2017 growing season is already high among food bank members, we will be able to hold a special recruitment drive to encourage members to get involved with one or more of our gardens.

    Two of our gardens have benches which encourage gardeners and neighbours to spend time socializing and sharing stories near the gardens. Based on their experience, we will be able to provide garden benches for the gardens without benches.

    We will be able to institute an idea from our 2016 season-end meeting and establish two new specialty gardens – a pesto garden (basil, garlic, sunflowers) and a pizza garden (tomatoes, peppers, onions and other pizza toppings) – to help millennial not-quite-gardeners-yet connect gardening to eating.

    We will be able to assist one of the new small gardens to expand to accommodate more gardeners with compost and a rain barrel.

    Increase yields through education
    At our 2016 season-end meeting, there was a consensus that more education sessions for gardeners would be opportunities for social inclusion and also introduce ways for gardeners to increase the yields from the gardens.

    We will be able to hold 3 special education sessions through the season highlighting:

  • choosing seeds for our growing conditions and for ease of gardening, garden planning (what vegetables and herbs to choose for food and success, and when to expect to harvest) and soil management;
  • composting and weed management; and
  • canning and pickling.
  • Increase yields through capacity building
    There was agreement at our season-end meeting that there are still some elements required at some or all of our gardens to increase their yields.

    We will be able to provide locally-produced, high quality, composted horse manure to each of the gardens, including the new specialty gardens.

    Two gardens struggled with making water available and convenient for gardeners (and last year was a very dry season). We will be able to boost these gardens’ (and the new specialty gardens’) capacity for watering with rain barrels, hoses and watering cans.

    We will be able to try to boost the gardens’ yields by assisting each of the gardens to establish a row of pollinator plants near their gardens.