Last week I had the opportunity to revisit the community garden at the frenetically busy intersection of Preston and Somerset Streets in one of the most ethnically diverse neighbourhoods of Ottawa. The garden is kitty-corner across from Plant Bath, a very well-used community centre and swimming pool. The garden is a joint project of the Dalhousie Community Association and the Vietnamese Canadian Centre.
The garden is constructed on a vacant lot that is ultimately slated for construction of a community centre. While the community centre may take a few years to come to fruition, the planning of the community garden had to assume that it may have a fairly short life. So the limited funds were used to buy cheap lumber and to have it assembled by volunteers. A one-day blitz got the boxes constructed and filled. While the construction may not win any awards it certainly meets the purpose. The boxes are now full of flourishing veggies and neighbourhood connections are being made.
If the garden on Preston was slapped together quickly, its opposite number is a number of raised boxes that I came across at an Ottawa Community Housing apartment building in Ottawa South. The raised boxes are solid and substantial, obviously professionally designed and built with an eye to minimize vandalism and to ensure longevity (some might suggest a bit of a ‘belt and suspenders’ approach!).
While different in construction, I found that the common denominator for both gardens is the sense of community and warmth that both sites convey. Gardeners have brought their house plants to the boxes, lawn chairs are part of the scene and veggies that I have yet to identify are indicative of the diversity of food plants and speak as well to the diversity of the folks that grow them.
Lots to Harvest in Almonte!
Lots of warm-weather veggies are coming into their own – beans are bountiful, cucumbers are cookin’, peppers are poppin’, corn is amaizing, melons are multiplying, tomatoes are a tad tardy and zucchini and patty pan are summer squash! A couple of enthusiastic community gardeners were seen last week harvesting beans from the community beds at the Augusta Park Community Garden.
If you have too much produce for yourself and your family and friends, please remember that fresh produce can be dropped off at the food bank. The Lanark County Food Bank (that serves Carleton Place, Beckwith and Mississippi Mills) provides food to about 700 people a month. The goal is to provide enough food for three to five days once each month for your neighbours that are in need.
Your contribution can also help Mississippi Mills continue our proud traditional of victory in the Great Veggie Grow-off. This Community Challenge, now in its fourth year, expanded last year to include gardeners in communities across Lanark supporting all four of the food banks in the County, resulting in a grand total of 10,094 pounds of healthy local produce donated.
Bring your armfuls of produce to the Hunger Stop (aka Lanark County Food Bank) at 5 Allan Street in Carleton Place and make sure that it is weighed and credited to Mississippi Mills. Or you can do as our mayor does – he drops off his extra produce at a cooler in the foyer of the Almonte library. We are very grateful to the library for making this service available as well as to the volunteers who pick up this produce and drive it down to the Food Bank.
The Food Bank is open:
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
9:00 am – 1:00 pm
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Try to drop your produce off first thing in the morning if possible.