Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Meeting with City Staff

We are still here for you!

We went to the meeting last night on behalf of the many lovely folks who either were unavailable or wanted to go and were too upset to sit through a city meeting.

Much of the meeting was as contradictory as the rest we've had.  City staff say one thing, and do another or they say opposing "facts" back to back.  They present themselves as credulous as to why the collaboration between the community and the city broke down.

Somehow, the community driven project that was going to cost $24,000 in grant money and provide twelve (12) beds, has turned into a job that the city has contracted to a landscape company that cost well over $50,000 for six (6) beds.  If you want the exact dollar figure, we were told you can email Garth Armour at garmour@toronto.ca.

Basically, we echo what so many other gardens have been sharing with us this past few years:

There is a detrimental gap in communication and collaboration between Parks & Rec staff and the community members.

We wanted to share some feedback we have received with you:

"Somebody told me they heard about your garden on the CBC this morning, and so I looked it up on your website. What a story. It's certainly a strange time that we're in, where there is long, long inaction and then suddenly a whole bunch of new "cooks" (i.e. city staff) who definitely spoil the broth. And being cut right out of things, meetings behind closed doors, etc.,  is the experience that groups have had all over the city, for years."  Community Gardener

"The problem extends way beyond the gardens. For many decades Parks and Rec has been one of the city departments least able to collaborate. Mostly they steal people's ideas and then do a substandard version of them with their own staff. That's a strange harsh thing to say but it's a fair shorthand, anyway."  Community Gardener

The more important information for those who wish to garden at the site:

There are a total of 6 beds, one of which is for mobility challenged persons.

There are no allotments.  This is community gardening.

The clubhouse is still part of the deal.

The city will provide plants, but you must specifically ask for plants that have not been treated with  neoniconoids.  (Yes, that sounds like the city does not follow this as best practice throughout the city!  And yes, if you think this sounds like a call to action, it is.  Get in touch if you have time to devote to this.)

The city will provide some tools and a list must be given to them of what the group will need.

For the garden permit to be handed out, the community must follow the list set out on the community garden website here.  The new group needs to select a garden co-ordinator and determine their structure, etc.

I would encourage those who wish to garden to act quickly if they wish to have all this work done while there is still a growing season.

I would also like to encourage the gardeners to focus on building a strong connection with each other, with the neighbours, and with the larger community.  Connect with other gardens across the city and share your experiences and knowledge base.

If you want to have the kind of garden you want, you will need that connection and strength to advocate for yourselves in the future.

Best of Luck!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

No Room for Community in Toronto's new Community Garden Program (Part Two)

The Park's department is going ahead with building their "dictatorship garden" based on our two years of work.

We can't really call it a community garden since they won't collaborate with us.

Sarah Doucette​ is fully supportive of this endeavor and has been recruiting garden members for the project.  She mentioned she has about five currently.

We really wish that Sarah would have supported the community who worked so hard and helped us create the garden that the community envisioned.

Instead, it seems the idea of ANY garden is all that matters.  Even if it is built on bad blood.

Maybe she's right.

Find out more information on June 15th at the Annette Recreation Centre where Sarah will deliver the news to the community and hopefully answer all of your questions.  For exact time and date, please contact Sarah or look for posters at the site.

For a sneak peak of the development coming your way, here are some photos from another garden the city has constructed:

Monday, 19 January 2015

No Room for Community in Toronto's new Community Garden Program

Hello Gardening Folks,

It's been some time since you've had an update on what's going on.  Today, I'm here to tell you this:

We have formally terminated our involvement with the garden project at the defunct Humberside Bowling Green.

As most of you know, we have been working on this project for over two years.  We developed a community driven plan to create a garden that involved local schools, summer volunteer student groups, local family owned  green businesses, and community members.  We had a successful fundraising team that worked hard to secure a $24,000 grant from Live Green Toronto.  We were donated a ton of organic seeds from the Sweet Potato.  We were good to go.

But then something surprising happened.

Toronto Park's decided that it was time to standardize all community gardens across the city.  They hijacked our garden plans and met with Live Green Toronto, without us, and rewrote our grant budget to pay themselves.

We were shocked.  Could they even do that?

It turns out they could.  Because Live Green Toronto is the city, so they can rewrite our grant as they see fit and as they are told by the Park's department.

What we were left with was a plan that sharply contrasted what the community wanted and we were completely left out of the process.  We were told that the students, volunteers, and community members could no longer be a part of creating the garden and the work was to be contracted out by the city.

Not only did this cut out the community, it raised the cost of the project to ridiculous proportions.

Since we still legally had to approve/sign off on the grant money (even though it would go directly back to the city) we decided to reject the grant and terminate our support of the garden project.

We are now focused on seeking new land for a community garden that is not owned by the City.

I'd personally like to thank all of the enthusiastic people who had committed their time and energy to this project.  Especially, I'd like to thank all of the students at Western Tech who were our biggest supporters and whom have already made us wooden chairs, chess tables, bird feeders, and garden signs.  And a special thank you to Arlene and Mark from BUFCO.  Your help throughout this project was incredible and your products are fantastic.

It's a sad day for community gardens across the city, when standardization and liability rule over community driven projects, creativity, and strong desire to be involved in our own neighbourhoods.

Joelle Kennedy
Garden Coordinator

Yes, it is a sad day after all the visioning and hard work that was put into meetings, grant proposals, etc.

I can't be part of a garden that isn't community based and doesn't respect the plans and wishes of the garden community.

I hope another site may be found within the ward to continue a vision that is deeply rooted in sharing the bounty of the earth.

Thank you to all the members that showed up and helped support this initiative.

I'd like to thank Joelle for all the selfless hours she devoted into planning this Garden and writing the grant that had been accepted yet has been changed so drastically it doesn't reflect the original grant.

We the people are the City however when "City" (that separates themselves from us) starts to dictate what is allowed and what isn't and doesn't respect the planning and hard work of the volunteers that created the vision, Yes, it is a Sad day!

So for these reasons I step aside from this project also.

Joanne Deane
Assistant Garden Coordinator

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Growing Food in the City - Knowledge Swap

"Growing Food in the City" Knowledge Swap:

Who: Presented by Greenest City & Toronto Urban Growers.

What: Come meet other growers to share gardening tips and new ideas on urban agriculture initiatives. Learn what other growers are doing around the city and share your experiences! - Free registration. Snacks provided. Register or get more info by emailing urbanagriculture@greenestcity.ca or calling 647.438.0038

Where: St. John's Polish National Cathedral, parish hall – 186 Cowan Ave., Toronto
When: Saturday, November 29th1-4pm
Why: To strengthen urban agriculture in the GTA.

GrowTO is a new partnership between Toronto Urban Growers (TUG) and Greenest City that taps into
the power of community-based urban agriculture to engage diverse residents in environmental

We invite you to register for our upcoming “Growing Food in the City” Knowledge Swap on Saturday, November 29th from 1 – 4pm. The event is free and will take place in the parish hall of St. John's Polish National Cathedral at 186 Cowan Ave.

The knowledge swap is an opportunity for you to meet other growers to share gardening tips and new urban agriculture ideas. This is the time to learn what other growers are doing around the city and to share your experiences!

Please pass this information on to others you think may be interested.

For more information or to register, please contact Monique Kelemen at 647.438.0038, or by email at communications@greenestcity.ca

Monday, 22 September 2014

Parks Drawing of Project Development

Hi Folks!

We haven't heard much from Parks over the summer, so I apologize for the lack of available information.  This is what came through today as firm plans from Parks to be implemented by them over the next few weeks.

To relay the fine print:

Top left:

New asphalt pavement/ramp

Bottom left:

New post and paddle fence (in front of planting bed)

Right (top to bottom):

New perennial planting bed

New seating / gathering area

(1) New raised signature BUFCO garden beds (4' x 8') 4-tier, 6" cedar logs (20" height)

(11) New raised signature BUFCO garden beds (4' x 8') 3-tier, 6" cedar logs (15" height)

New double shredded cedar mulch over limestone screening surface

New perennial planting bed

I realize there are some flaws in their design and I'd like people to send in their comments as soon as possible.

I am also working with Greenest City, our wonderful trustee, to set up a meeting between the garden members, Parks, and Live Green.

Please let me know who would like to be a part of this meeting and we'll start setting up dates once we have the list of people who want to attend.


Friday, 18 July 2014

We Need You

Hello Friends of the Garden,

The Ravina Community Garden would like to extend an invitation for community members to step up and take on a variety of leadership roles within the garden.

We all know there is a lot of behind the scenes work needed to create a community garden from scratch, and that the work is indeed a labour of love!   We also know there is no garden without community involvement.

The garden is currently seeking community members who are willing to lead the following areas:
  • Governance and Gardening Agreement Manuals
  • Beauty and Design
  • Bed Installation and Work Days
  • Community Outreach
  • Construction
  • Fundraising
  • Maintenance
  • Shoppers

Please come to one of our bi monthly meetings and stay up to date via the blog or our facebook page.

The next meeting will take place on July 22nd @ 7pm and we will meet at the site on the corner of Clendenan and Glendonwynne.

If you cannot offer time to the garden, please consider a monetary donation.  The bulk cost of the garden is the planter beds, as the site requires that all edibles must be grown in containers due to pesticide use over time.

Accessible beds cost $2,000 each and the regular beds cost $1,000 each.  We also would like to build an outdoor oven and host weekly community meals at the garden.

Please help make this a wonderful community space, where plants and people grow!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Meeting Schedule and Location

Hi Garden Folks!

The weather is so nice, we'll be meeting at the green space instead of the library.

Weather permitting, all future summer and fall meetings will be held at the site. 

Rain location will be the Annette Library.

Meetings continue to be in the same format, alternating Tuesday evenings starting at 7pm.

June 10th
June 24th
July 8th
July 22nd
Aug 5th
Aug 19th
and so on!

Special meetings and garden outings will be announced here as well as on the forum.  Please note that mass emails will no longer be sent.  Stay informed by joining the forum (garden members only), or by visiting this blog and our facebook page.