A New Season in the Garden
When off to a snowy start it is always amazing to see how the garden transforms throughout the year. We are going to take you on a journey through our spring and summer season that has been our most productive and rewarding yet. We have been donating more vegetables, diverting more waste, educating more students, coordinating more volunteers, working with more community members, and running more community markets then ever before.
First things first
Spring is a time or renewal in the garden everything and everyone is thawing out and collecting the suns first strong rays. Garlic is usually one of the first things up, breaking through its twelve inch thick blanket of fall straw and leaves. Spring is usually our busiest time of the season, We are flipping and sifting large compost piles so we can have perfect garden beds to greet the first seeds and transplants of the season. We practice a lot of permaculture and small scale organic farming practices not only for educational purposes but because we also produce a ton of food (over 16,000 pounds) for a ton of people and this involves timing, planning, and teamwork.
|Garlic and the Lawrence Heights/Kensington Market Car|
|Straw helps keep all the weeds at bay.|
|The new 1/4 acre plot we opened up is made out of specially designed water retention raised beds.|
|Community volunteer with the first daffodils|
|Fibonacci herb spiral starting to wake up|
|Weed salad made from tender spring dandelion greens wild violets an over wintered onion and mango (even though we are asked all the time sadly we cant grow mangoes here)|
|Cabbages, Kale, and Mustard's are all hiding under row cover. The floating white fabric is an organic farmers best friend. It allows water, air and sunlight to the plant but keeps out all insects. They also help retain heat for earlier plantings.|
|Prepared garden beds in our south plot and a beautiful flowering Saskatoon berry tree.|
|First red mustard's growing!|
Education is Key
Our gardens exist first and foremost to educate. There is a wealth of information and experiences to be shared by community members in diverse neighborhoods through Toronto. Every community market, meal shared, and interaction brings a wealth of new knowledge and experience to the garden. We are constantly pushing ourselves to get more schools, more teachers, and more community members involved. Over the winter we created a unique and flexible garden curriculum that can be modified and tailored to different age groups, learning needs, and teacher specific lesson needs. This has allowed us to reach out and work with schools and organizations all throughout the GTA. The continuity of our programming and our connections to local primary, middle, and secondary schools allows students to have a connected continuing outdoor education in every grade and every school.
|Students shifting castings so they can make there own vermicompost bins for the classroom.|
|Our resident hens love the spring sunshine|
Community Compost and Markets
After an extremely successful trial last season our food scraps for vegetable program is running all season. Community members bring us their sorted kitchen scraps in exchange for market dollars which they can use at our PWYC biweekly farmers markets. We have diverted tons of food waste from the garbage, have been able to provide much needed fresh vegetables in a dignified way to our community, and brought together different Toronto residents from all over to share stories, food, and laughter.
|Aga stiring a large pot of soup on our rocket stove|
|Volunteers helping to prepare and setup for market|
|What a beautiful space to get together share food and stories|
|preparing pizzas for the market|
|Sayara helping with the first sale of the day|
Every year with student workers and volunteers we make a ton of beautiful traditional salt fermented sauerkraut for our markets. Learning how to prepare and cook with fresh vegetables is as important as learning how to grow and harvest them. Close to 700 pounds of cabbage gets processed and fermented. Harvesting, prepping, fermenting, and marketing skills are taught throughout the process. We explore fermentation throughout the world and learn how connected we are to food, land, and bacteria.
|Our favorite heirloom cabbage for making Kraut|
|Beautiful cabbages companion planted with onions and dill which will all get processed into the same jar. Kraut specific garden beds!|
|Finished Kraut at the farmers market, juniper apple sage, curtido, and dill galic|
Persistence and Beauty
This is the gardens sixth full season. No one would have imagined it would it be what it has grown into. A haven for insects, bees, and butterflies; a migration stopping point for hundreds of birds; an oasis for the community, and a beautiful safe space. The persistence of many individuals dreams and handwork is what has allowed the garden to flourish. Each flower bloomed and every pound of food harvested is because of a shovel lifted, a bead of sweat dropped, and a dream realized. The garden will have produced over 60,000 pounds of food after this season. We are so excited to see what the rest of the summer and the fall has to bring!
|A mix of herbs, native perennials, and vegetables|
|North side beds full of cabbage and kale|
|The Fibonacci herb spiral has really come to life|
|One of our reclaimed log sitting beds|
|mint, sage, and lavender|
|The new 1/4 acre expansion is full of peppers eggplants, tomatoes, and zucchinis|
|New bench seating was build and installed all throughout the garden|
|Swiss Chard inter-sown with onions|
|More Kale, our staple|
|Garlic braided and drying|