The Urban Jungle: Community Gardens Grow on Toronto

Jesse Fleming in Urban IssuesGarlic

One of the drawbacks I initially had towards living in a condominium was the lack of a garden to call my
own.  Although my green thumb has yet join the party, I do enjoy the planting and maintaining that goes along with summer gardening.  Most buildings are not conducive to intensive crop establishment and that is where community gardens fill the missing piece of the puzzle.  Community gardens throughout Toronto provide residents of all gardening calibre to grow, harvest and eat the vegetables of their labours.

Community gardens and allotment gardens differ in Toronto.  Municipal allotment gardens are assigned to participants who pay a yearly/seasonal fee and work and harvest their own slice of land – there are currently 12 in Toronto.  Community gardens are group endeavours; however, the land can be further divided into sub-plots.  The harvest is communal and shared amongst everyone – though this is not written in stone and can vary from each of Toronto’s approximate 100 community gardens. 

Aside from the satisfaction that is gained from growing and tending a garden and the community relations and pride that, along with seedlings, take root, a host of benefits have been derived from these projects.  Areas of neglect and high crime become places where residents of all ages work together with a common goal of maintaining food security.  New Canadians have had success in growing native plants from their homelands allowing certain traditions to continue to be taught to future generations born in Toronto.  The benefits of gardening have also spread into a treatment/rehabilitation program established through the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Toronto-based FoodShare.

I look to these gardens to satisfy my inner farmer although they are boundless in their benefits and locales.  Empty yards, rooftops and forgotten areas all over Toronto have given homes to gardens over the years and have been an important element in unifying, welcoming and aiding new and long-time Torontonians. 

Jesse Fleming is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Email Jesse

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