Gardening in Almonte: More Lessons from Community Gardening in Ottawa



Last week I had the occasion to facilitate a gardening workshop at a very warm and welcoming community garden in one of the older neighbourhoods in the Alta Vista area of Ottawa.

A joint project of the Trinity Church of the Nazarene and the Riverview Park Community Association this garden was established some four years ago with assistance from the Community Gardening Network of Ottawa and some funding from the City of Ottawa. A big chunk of the budget for the garden went to comprehensive soil testing.

The garden was created on land owned by the church and a close relationship continues between the church and the community garden. As seen in the following photos there are no fancy raised boxes or expensive composers. The garden beds are all in the ground with some gardeners choosing to surround their gardens with wood. A utilitarian shed holds garden tools and eaves-troughing on the shed helps to fill some of the many water barrels. Metered water is also available from the church to help refill the barrels.

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Gardeners were busy at work with most gardens fully planted. One happy gardener offered her view as to what a “great de-stressor” working in the garden was for her. A truckload of compost was being used to replenish nutrients in the soil and gardeners were watering parched soil. Many different techniques were evident with lots of poles to take full advantage of productive climbing plants such as beans. The garden has a good multigenerational mix with lots of young families and children fully engaged in gardening. There is also a multi-cultural mix and I must admit that there were several oriental vegetables that I am not that familiar with.

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There is a strong sense of community in the garden. A steering committee of four looks after registration and makes day to day decisions as required. A number of committees are in place to handle the required communal work, such as composting, water and maintenance. Some of the leaders of the working committees are also part of the steering committee.

The full community is engaged at an initial get-together in April where plots are assigned and organizational matters are dealt with (A plot of approximately 4 feet by 20 feet is available for $25 for the season). The April meeting is also a potluck and social occasion. There are also get-togethers and potlucks of the whole garden community mid-season and at the end of the season.

In an attempt to extend the sense of community a couple of surplus beds were used last year for an experiment with collaborative gardening. Results were not perfect but a lot of lessons were learned and it is continuing this year.