EnviroCentre Edition - Spring 2016
Scroll down for highlights!
Catherine Mageau-Walker (SustainLowertown Coordinator), Annie Mercier (LCRC Community Developper), Mathieu Fleury and Angela Palma Herriot at a Good Food Market in Lowertown.
Photo courtesy of SustainLowertown
Growing Food and Community in Lowertown East
Catherine Mageau-Walker, Program Coordinator, Sustain Lowertown
Any gardener or farmer can tell you that there is a healing and nourishing quality in growing your own food – an intimate connection that sprouts between you and the earth, a connection that only deepens, when you plant those seeds with others. A pride and thrill flourishes in working together to cultivate and watch something go from seed to something that appears on your plate. And that connection continues to grow when you can sit down together to share in that bounty.
Building raised beds for the Beausoleil Community Garden. Photo courtesy of SustainLowertown
From a seed, a community can grow.
And that growth is happening in the community of Lowertown with three separate gardening projects underway:
- The Beausoleil Community Garden, funded by EnviroCentre’s Sustain Your Community project with support from Ottawa Community Housing (OCH), Lowertown Community Resource Centre (LCRC) and volunteers from the community, is located in the greenspace behind 25 OCH townhomes. With a goal of shared learning and access to healthy fresh food, five raised beds were created last fall so that residents would be able to plant, tend and harvest food together.
- The Angel Square Community Garden grew out of an increased demand within the community for more raised beds after the Lowertown Community Garden had reached capacity. Built in the Fall of 2014 through the support of Just Food Community Garden Fund, LCRC and community volunteers, the garden is now self-sustaining with an active volunteer Steering Committee and is a part of the Community Garden Network of Ottawa, an information and resource-sharing network that supports the sustainable development of community gardens within the City. With 12 raised beds for growing vegetables, berries and edible flowers, the garden is an accessible, multicultural community garden that the residents of Lowertown East can enjoy.
- The Container Gardening Project, originally funded through the Ontario Trillium Foundation, was started with a goal of providing residents with the tools, skills and support to grow their own fresh produce regardless of their income, living space or agricultural knowledge. Each season starts with a workshop where participants assemble their buckets, fill them and chose their seedlings. Depending on their living space they can take their containers home to grow on balconies or porches, or they can leave them around the Lowertown Community Resource Centre’s community garden plots, where the project is run. Last year 90 buckets were distributed to families and individuals in the community.
All of these projects came from a seed – an idea of bringing not only food to a community but to build it at the same time. The Angel Square Garden and the Container Gardening Project, for example, are now managed by their own independent community-run steering committees. They are planning a joint seed swapping activity this spring and collaborating at work bees and when you walk by Angel Square, there are people conversing or sitting on the bench.
As one volunteer-action committee member states, “Community Gardens are important because they bring together all types of people. Growers, planers, kids, recent immigrants, seniors etc… Angel Square has become a bit of a meeting place and the kind of open, functional and beautiful place where neighbors cross paths, chit-chat and help one another”.
From a seed, a community continues to grow….
Although there has been a lot of work done on each of these three projects with many successes along the way, there is still a lot of work to be done – not just on these projects, but future ones, such as the search for a suitable space for another community garden in Lowertown West.
PERC thanks the above organizations for their support.
Thank you to Envirocentre for sponsoring the Spring 2016 edition of the PEN.