June 18, 2024

KMCKrell

Taste the Home & Environment

Township looking for community input on community garden

Gardening season is about to bloom, and for those with a green thumb but may not have the resources, the Township is looking for input as it plans for the creation of a community garden.

In early 2021, council was presented with the idea of creating a community garden. Township CAO Kristi Honey took on the project and began the planning phase. The idea experienced no concrete development as a result of pandemic challenges and low engagement, and in July of 2022 it was brought back to council under the lens of food security and conservation.

Now, nearly two years later, the Township has released a survey to allow residents to have their say in the early stages of planning and production of a community garden.

The short survey includes questions covering topics like residents’ desired use of the garden, imagined benefits of a community garden, and garden location, with The Fields of Uxbridge, Herrema Park, Dominion Street Parkette and Bonner Fields listed as options.

The survey can be found on the Township website or at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WXC9NWP

In line with this initiative, communal gardening is already alive and well in Uxbridge, with the Community Share Garden on Reid Rd., the public herb patch at the Uxbridge Historical Centre, and the seed library at the Uxbridge Library.

In Fall 2021, Uxbridge residents Rhonda Barry and Chantel Britton, with support and guidance from Mary Drummond of Durham Integrated Growers, prepared a proposal and approached their employer, The Miller Group, with a plan to start a community garden on Reid Rd., just east of Conc. 7. They requested support in the form of annual land and water use, as well as the donation of resources like labour and materials to build raised beds, pathways, and provide access to the site. Planting for this project started in June 2022.

Both community members and Miller employees volunteer to help maintain the community share plots, and individuals can also adopt a plot for their own use.

“Plots are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, you can visit the Uxbridge Community Share Garden Facebook page or email [email protected].” says Rhonda Barry. “The garden spans over an acre of property, with potential for future expansion. The proceeds from the community shared plots go directly to the Uxbridge Food Bank, and the first donation was made in late August 2022.”

Earlier this spring, Miller donated 60 centrepiece boxes filled with vegetable seedlings, seeds, and perennials to the Community Share Garden.

“These thoughtful donations were assembled for their Annual General Meeting (AGM) and served as a celebration of Miller’s 107th birthday,” says Barry

On May 24, Community Share Graden plot adoptees, along with Miller’s environmental team, and 50+ employees, will be on-site to prepare the garden for the 2024 season. They will be building new garden plots, spreading donated wood chips, amending the soil with compost, adding a pergola, expanding the pollinator garden for the resident bee colony, and planting the gifted plants from the AGM.

“For Miller, the Uxbridge Community Share Garden has created a shared space where employees can collaborate and build relationships outside of their usual work tasks,” says Barry. “Gardening has promoted teamwork, knowledge-sharing, and support among individuals, leading to camaraderie and unity within the workplace. Engaging in gardening activities has also provided employees with a break from office routines and an opportunity to connect with nature, leading to improved mental and physical well-being. For Uxbridge residents involved in this project the community garden has great significance. It promotes food security, healthy eating, fosters social connections, improves well-being, provides inter-generational educational opportunities, and enhances the beauty and sustainability of the neighborhood.”

Closer to the centre of town, Maureen O’Shea-Brown started the seed library out of the Uxbridge Public Library in 2022. A program where there are “free seeds for you to take, grow and hopefully give back at the end of the season.”

On the north side of the Uxbridge Historical Centre property, guests will find plants ready to be savoured! “We have a herb garden that is open to the community,” says Julia Saccucci, cultural assistant at the Uxbridge Historical Centre. “The community is welcome to come and pick what they would like. The garden is maintained by our lovely local volunteers.”

For those interested in horticulture, there is also the Uxbridge Horticultural Society, a group which runs monthly meetings to help encourage, educate and inspire gardeners. “We distribute seeds, encourage gardening in public and private spaces, and provide horticultural education,” says Society VP, Sarah Farndon-Choi.

This season, the group has many events planned. A members garden tour in August, hypertufa planter making in July, and a wild foraging workshop later in the season.

“We are also hoping to provide our community with more information regarding invasive species and what we can plant to support our local ecosystem,” says Farndon-Choi. “We are always looking for new ways to engage with people in our community, and are excited by all the new faces we have had at our meetings. Please follow along on Instagram @Uxbridge_Horticulture

The Uxbridge Horticultural Society volunteers also work to keep Uxbridge beautiful. “Our Society maintains all the gardens around the Uxbridge Library, and the Seniors Centre; it is a big job each year and our members are always happy to have help from the community,” says Farndon-Choi.

The Horticultural Society is holding a plant sale on Sunday, May 26, from 9 to 11 a.m. in the parking lot of Sharpe Farm Supplies.

Justyne Edgell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos