See also Site Map
Question - 1 - From Peterborough
I was wondering if you used a specific form that is utilized to help groups apply for a community garden? I am working on creating one for the Peterborough Community Garden Network, and was looking for some ideas of what to include. I have read the very helpful How to Start A Community Garden Handbook. Thanks for providing such great information.
Starting a community garden, and applying for one are two different stories, especially, in a different city. Here in Toronto, if it is in a city park, then you have to go through the Parks Forestry and Recreation channels to tell them what park you are interested in and where in the park you were thinking of setting up the garden. On private land, like behind a church, or some land donated by a business, then you have to check to make sure there is no by-law violation.
(there is a big story happening in St. Thomas, where someone was donated a vacant property, she talked with the neighbours, and they were all in favor of community garden. but after she started the garden someone complained that that was their favorite place to set off fire works and other -well, I would call frivolous- complaints - They even made some headlines in the news - Violators can be fined $25,000! City posted a cease-and-desist order at community garden. - It started as a plan to plant beets, potatoes and carrots. But all that's grown in a community garden in St. Thomas has been resentment and animosity. - A zoning infraction, a YouTube video and a death threat are also part of the plot, as a neighbourly project wilts before it gets roots.) - not to scare you from starting a garden - but a heads up to make sure you have all your "i"s dotted, and your "t"s crossed.
In Toronto we have wards and city councilors, and you would go to that person and sell them on the idea of your community garden, So, what ever the Peterborough version would be, even going to the Mayor would be good.
For your community garden network I would say, find out from the existing community garden what loops they had to jump through, what road blocks that they ran into, where they found the best support, and create your own documents.
I am also giving you two links for the free downloadable pdf.s about starting community gardens in general and in city of Toronto parks. If your parks department doesn't have one, see if you can show this document to the supervisor and perhaps they will be motivated to create one for Peterborough.
as well, I have a collection of documents that you can use as the PCGN sample documents for your community gardens, they are in the same "garden Shed" that the pdfs are in, there are many resources, so feel free to click on the tab call garden shed, and look around.
and my final word of advice, is to tell the garden groups to advertize their plans to start a C.G. in the neighbourhood by having public meetings - yes several, at different times or days to make sure that everyone that is interested -positive and negative, is invited, and has a chance to come to at least one of the meetings - and inviting those in the immediate area, leaving flyers, knocking on doors, putting up posters in the local corner stores etc. really make sure that they do a through job so that no one can complain that they didn't know ...
Thanks for all your suggestions & help. We have been working closely with the City, and I am now in the process of creating the form to help people get gardens growing on City lands. Thanks for the link & suggestions. The TCGN is such a fabulous organization & your help is much appreciated.
- - - -
Question - 2 - From the St. Jamestown Gardening group
Hello, on behalf of St. Jamestown Residentsí Community & Balcony Gardening group, I am sending this e-mail to request for any helpful information for our gardening project. At the moment we are in a process to find a gardening space in our community. We need to write a proposal. However, we ask for your guidance and pointers/information for starting this gardening project. We need gardening experts who can guide us for design and layout of gardening. Also if possible, can you recommend a garden that we can visit? I would like to know of the services that Toronto Community Garden Network offers and how we can get involved. Thank you.
for starters, I am going to send you the links for the two downloadable pdf.'s
here is the contact information for our "Food Animator" (means she helps people start veggie gardens and - by the way - FoodShare does a lot of work to help community gardens get started)
After you read over some of the pdf about community gardens, you will have a clearer view of what you need to do next, and will be able to ask specific questions of Utcha.
Thanks From Australia
My name is Angela Greenall and I have just started working as a project officer to develop a network of community gardens in Baw Baw shire, Victoria Australia.
I just wanted to say congratulations on your website - it is a real inspiration and has encouraged me to do a course to develop our own web page.
You are doing a great job!
Question - 3 - From Australia
My name is Marie Caffarel, from the University of Queensland, Australia, and I am doing some research on community gardens in Canada.
I was wondering if you would be able to answer a few questions to add to my database. This data will serve to contribute to a broad research on the effect of community gardens on the community at large.
Thank you so much for your time,
we have been getting a lot of interest in the Community garden network from Australia .....
The TCGN, is a non-profit -Grass Roots- organization, run by volunteers. the TCGN itself, doesn't own any land. All the community gardens that you see listed on our website, are all run by individual community groups... some of them are associated with community centers or other parent organizations. some of them are stand alone groups.
I have only been associated with the TCGN for a few years, however, I have been in contact with two woman that have been in the TCGN since the beginning, and now have a full story about the TCGN:
The Story Behind The TCGN
The Toronto Community Garden Network is working to encourage a healthy community gardening movement in the City of Toronto, supporting and linking community gardeners.
Our goal is to encourage the creation of gardens across the City of Toronto and to make community gardening an integral part of city life.
The Toronto Community Garden Network -also know as the TCGN -was formed in 1999 as a natural progression of the increasing interest in community gardening. FoodShare had sponsored an annual winter meeting of community garden leaders since 1996. It was at the March 1999 meeting that the idea of formalizing the group into a network arose.
Advocacy with all levels of government is seen as an integral activity of the network in order to ensure the accessibility of opportunities for gardening. It was at the suggestion of the TCGN that Toronto's City Council adopted the 1999 Community Garden Action Plan that calls for the creation of a community garden in a park in every ward. Since that time TCGN members have received much welcomed support from Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation. By working together TCGN and Parks, Forestry and Recreation have created a supportive climate for community gardening that is looked to as a model by groups and municipalities across the country and abroad.
The following year, TCGN organized a conference of the American Community Gardening Association, in partnership with Parks, Forestry, and Recreation, and FoodShare Toronto. Not only did gardeners from across Toronto meet and exchange ideas with each other but also with community gardeners, activists and municipal staff from around the world. The conference would not have been possible had it not been for the tireless volunteer efforts of many, many TCGN members who were very eager to show off Toronto's community gardens.
Question - 4 From Wisconsin
My name is Theresa Kenney. I live in Milwaukee Wisconsin right near Lake Michigan. The Community Gardens of Milwaukee are presently embroiled in a fight with the Water Works commissioner who is threatening to turn off our water supplies for our gardens. While I understand it will be important to look at other sources of water catchment, at this point I am just trying to do some research and find out what is happening in other cities. Do you have hydrant use in Toronto? We have found that Chicago, Detroit, New York and Minneapolis all have hydrant policies that favor community gardens. Let us know what is happening out there.
Thank you for your interest in the TCGN and in and in the survival of community gardens.
Water is Very important...
most of the Community Gardens that are in City Parks, do have water provided. The gardens that are located on private property usually have some sort of hook up arrangement with the property owners.
Some community gardens have gotten grants to install cisterns.
I think that I could say that the City of Toronto respects C.G.s and this aspect of the "urban agriculture". They have seen how beneficial the gardens are - not just to provide fresh organic produce to those that might not be able to purchase it at the store, but how the gardens benefit the families and single people that are gardening, and the neighbourhoods in general.
One thing that the city is concerned with is selling produce grown in the parks, to make a profit (they don't mind if we can sell things to raise funds to continue supporting the costs of our garden)
Question - 5 From England
I am thinking of setting up a Community garden just outside my village in England and I was wondering if I could come and pick your brains about the best way of starting this up. I have come over to the Fergus, Guelph area to visit my family and will be here until the 26th of July. I could either come and see someone in the Toronto area or maybe you know of something a little closer. My main thought on how I would like to set a garden is that I would like to have subscribers who could either pay a subscription or offer labour in exchange for a certain amount of produce. I have my own garden at home and so have a fair idea about the gardening side of things but have never involved other people. I have however, until last term been a teacher of primary aged children.
Any input on how I can get a project like this up and running would be greatfully appreciated.
Thank you for your interest in community gardens in Toronto, and the Toronto Community Garden Network (TCGN).
Last year I was visited by Pam Smith, (a visitor to the Perth Dupont C.G. from England) she is a horticulturalist working in Birmingham. So, I found out about the dilemma in the UK, that the waiting list for a grave plot is easier that an allotment plot!
Her mission here to Toronto was to find out how our community plot system works.
School children are also a part of my community garden, there are three grade schools in a five minute walk from the garden. And the Perth Public school has taken us up on the offer of a plot in our garden. The class that you see visiting here in 2009, are now little gardeners this year.
In Toronto there are several Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organizations. there are little farms that invite the public to buy weekly produce boxes, and help with the work. I have included the link to one of them, that is in Toronto that you could also visit.
You are welcome to come and visit my community garden, and we can talk.
Reply: From Pam
Your email sounds interesting, and thanks to Susan for forwarding it. I am a horticulturalist originally was carrying out research for CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment)when i vistited Susan. The project has developed further and I have amasses a lot of info and contacts etc re community gardening in UK. I am also working on some garden projects in West Midlands. If you think I can help please get in touch, happy to volunteer some help.
Question - 6 From Ryerson
I am taking an urban agriculture course at Ryerson as part of their Sustainability Certificate and am trying to get a more comprehensive understanding of where urban agriculture currently stands in Toronto and where you and others at the Community Garden Network see it going in the future.
I've recently read that the city has passed a motion in council to advise all companies bidding on food contracts that ďit is a policy objective of the City to increase the percentage of food grown locally when all factors, including costs, quality and availability are equal.Ē But as I understand from Wayne Roberts article in NOW Magazine the wording from City Hall was very vague and did not offer the results the Toronto Food Policy Council wanted as it gives way to loopholes the city can use to stifle UA policy. What are some areas that you would like to see changed at City Hall in regards to UA?
Iím also trying to understand the relationship to the TFPC and The Toronto Environmental Alliance as Wayne states that with their limited expertise in food matters they did not push it as a major agenda item in the last election and actually refused to do so. Why would they refuse to do this? It seems that TEA would have the same goals as the TFPC. Please excuse my naivety Iím just learning about urban agriculture and where the city stands with it.
Any clarification you can provide would be most appreciated.
... wow ... a lot of hard hitting questions - Where does the City Stand?
what about the Toronto Community Garden Network (TCGN)? - - - I personally do not know what the government is planning - the promises - as vague as they were, donít quite match up with where they plan on "axing" the budget in parks and other urban ag. locations ... it seems that the agenda of the new mayor, is not the same as the last one) - - - however - people do what they need to do to exist. even if the budget gets cut, I think that the urban ag movement - is here... and people will find a way around it/despite any cuts.
(sorry for the history lesson...) when I was young, (in the 70's) everything needed to be modern - there was a rebelling against the traditional things - gardening, knitting and crocheting were considered old fashioned. and many of the arts/skills have not been passed down to the younger generation.
now here we are in the 21st century, and the young people are thriving on getting their hands dirty!! I have had tours in my garden from the day care children to the university students (BTW I am also the coordinator of the Perth Dupont C.G.) and there is a genuine interest to know where there food is coming from and to get a chance to grow some of their own food too.
you can read my introductory paragraphs in that link.
- as well, the urban ag movement is not just with the white Canadians - the many different cultures/the many different countries that people have come from, to be in Toronto, people want to have control over their food, to be able to have their culturally appropriate veggies.
there are many different groups TEA, Toronto Environment Office, Toronto Food Policy Council -TUG (Toronto Urban Growers) Food forward & the TCGN. ... during this urgent matter for the budget cuts, I was able to get some of them connected to support each other to make a statement at City Hall - they each have their own angle that they are concerned about, but urban ag. seems to be the overlapping matter/issue that connects each of them.
my question to you - have you ever been to see some C.G.s? (see also the tab called "Gardens" in the TCGN website) have you joined one, have you grown your own veggies? do you know what is expected of you? and the benefits of being involved with one? the whole of the matter - is greater than the sum of the parts.
please have a look at the links, and find out about the many different C.G. across the city. I have been answering the e-mails for the TCGN since 2007 - I have met (in a virtual way) folks from all these C.G.s, each community garden is as different as each community group. the way that they set up their gardens and take care of each other, their "rules and regulations" each one fits the needs of their neighbourhood.
some of this is your home work. I can show you some links and let you read their stories, but you will have to meet these people and find out why they are there, why they are involved in a community garden. ... this is not the same as studying math or geography. these are people - like you and me, not just facts and figures.
- each member of the TCGN, has their own take on the matter, so this is just "in my opinion" - I do not speak for the TCGN, just from my experience.