Urban Gardens: Good for You, Good for the Community, Good for the Environment
This post was written by guest blogger Katrina Waters.
Living in the city can often make us forget how important nature is and everything it provides. People, myself included, often get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the city and the convenience of the grocery store. Urban gardens, or community gardens like the Orleans Community Garden, allow us to get back into nature. The Orleans Community Garden began 10 years ago and is now run by Gina- an extremely intelligent, friendly, and selfless woman who has given her time and knowledge to the garden. With the help and support of the city, and the community, she has developed a beautiful garden just off the highway in an unlikely location.
With 75 plots and 65 families, the garden is predominantly self-sufficient meaning they buy no soil, use no pesticides, compost everything and have hand- and solar-powered water pumps and rain barrels. They get their mulch from a local arborist bringing in no store bought items, to ensure no diseases or unwelcome pests disrupt the garden. Just beside the garden is a growing orchard boasting cherries, currants, pears, plums, kiwis and the little-known Paupau tree. The goal is to gradually add to the orchard and increase the amount of fruit produced, as well as provide flowers for pollinators- many of which live just beside the orchard in unmissable colourful boxes. The bees have increased food production from 2000 pounds to 4000 pounds. Throughout the years, the place has become more beautiful and inviting with quaint sheds and creative seating areas. The area is not only well functioning but inviting.
The plots are individually cared for and you can feel the pride that each family has in their garden. Some plots are being used by local schools as not only as teaching tools but as opportunities for students to fulfil volunteer hours and also give back to the community. Giving back to the community is an important part of community gardens and something that Gina and the garden members have managed to pull off with gusto. The garden donates thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables each year to the Ottawa Mission. Last year alone, 4000 pounds of fruits and vegetables were donated to the kitchen. It doesn’t just stop there. Knowing that the Mission does not have the room to wash that many vegetables, they get washed at the garden on a table. The entire project is done out of no obligation, but generosity and compassion.
Urban gardens are a little slice of nature in an otherwise sprawling city. There is so much that can be done to incorporate a little more nature into our lives and, in return, support bee populations, our community, our health and the environment. I encourage you to look up a community garden in your area and look into everything that you can get, but also everything you can give by being a part of one.
To find out more information about community gardens in the Ottawa area, click here. Is there a community garden in your neighbourhood? Let us know in the comments!