Help! While interest in growing local healthy food continues to grow, the existing garden plots in our community gardens have all been allocated. We need more land for gardening both for those who want to grow food for their own use and for those who want to grow food for our local Food Bank. We also hope to expand educational opportunities. The Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardens has created an on-line survey with several objectives:
- Renewing interest of our existing membership while growing new members
- Identifying the time, talent and treasures of people interested in producing healthy local food
- Identifying ideal locations for new gardens based on local interest and support
- Working to increase the number of accessible places to garden in our communities.
Here’s the link. Have a look and please fill it in…
….and if you know of a relative, neighbour or friend who is unlikely to see this survey but may have a garden or some skills to share, please make them aware of this survey and help them to get in touch.
Just what is the Neighbourhood Tomato?
It is a community gardening phenomenon that owes much to the support of the Mills Community Support Corporation, to the creative and promotional inspiration of community developer Jeff Mills and to the dozens of committed volunteers in our community that toil long and hard every summer. The Tomato started in 2011 with the construction of a few raised gardening boxes at group homes and at the hospital.
Mississippi Mills was very fortunate to be awarded a grant from Tree Canada in 2012 in the amount of $3,000. That year 75 apple and pear trees were planted in the two towns and three hamlets that comprise the municipality of Mississippi Mills. To date we have only lost a couple of trees which is remarkable considering the extended drought in the summer of 2012. Volunteers in each of the settlements continue to be engaged with the maintenance of the trees which began to bear fruit last year.
In 2013 more raised beds for growing vegetables were installed at many locations around the municipality including several at Augusta Park. An educational component was launched.
In 2014 a 6,000 square foot community vegetable garden was created in Augusta Park. Approximately one-half was divided into individual allotment gardens; the other half was gardened as a community collaborative garden with the produce mainly going to our local food bank, the Lanark County Food Bank. The Tomato also took over the former TYPS garden behind the Almonte Library.
The Tomato led Mississippi Mills to an easy victory over Carleton Place and Beckwith in the ‘Veggie Grow-off’ which was created in 2014 as a friendly challenge to see which community could donate the greatest amount of fresh produce to the Food Bank. The Food Bank was the recipient of over 2800 pounds of fresh produce in 2014.
The Tomato’s program also included weekly mentoring and teaching opportunities and several community potlucks. Other associated events included the five concerts at Augusta Park in July and private gardening initiatives by friends of the ‘Tomato’.
Some of the accomplishments in 2015 included:
- Potlucks and community celebrations that included a pot-luck at the OldTown Hall with most of our local municipal politicians in attendance and a wonderful summer potluck in conjunction with bicycle month that took over Mill Street
- A series of workshops held jointly with the Almonte Library.
- Twice weekly hands-on opportunities to learn about vegetable gardening
- Putting the final touches on the community garden in Augusta Park which included a large shed, a path through the garden that connects with the bridge and the street, water service to the garden, beds planted and pathways mulched, soil and compost added to some of the beds, and a large berm created to surround the garden planted with edible shrubs.
- An enlarged garden behind the library, including a collaborative gardening area, with an enthusiastic group of gardeners.
- We provided promotional assistance and support to community gardening programs in Carleton Place and Carp
- And over 4,000 pounds in 2015 was donated to the Food Bank during the Great 2015 Veggie Grow-off.
A few photos showing some of the fun in 2015 follow.
Planning for this year is underway; your replies to our survey will be incredibly helpful.