Sunday, 21 August 2016

Seasons at JPCI

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. 
Snowy Beginnings 

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.
Removing dandelions from bed edges. Dandelions' long roots capture and bring deep hiding nutrients to the surface and ariate the soil. Dandelions are also a first food source for overwintered bees. Do not worry though we left plenty for the bees and composted anything we harvested to more effectively trap and store nutrients. 
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.   

Student harvesting spinach.

Student harvesting wildfire lettuce mix.

Co-Op student learning how to prep for a farmers market.

Learning about fungi and mycelium growth

Workshop on pollinators and plant diversity 

Compost Workshop

 Community Compost and Markets

Food Scraps are traded for organic produce.
After an extremely successful trial market 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 bi-weekly farmers market. 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.
2016 stats

  • 11 Community Compost Markets
  • 7,700 dollars of exchanged produce
  • 230 sq feet of finished compost produced
  • 45 families involved
A Community Members weekly donation

Happy customer going home dino kale, bok choy, and swiss chard

Making Kraut

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.

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!

Farmers Markets 

This is our fourth year selling at the Downtown Souraren Farmers Market. We are extremely proud of the beautiful produce we are able to bring every week. It is a great opportunity for students to learn the business component of farming. Weekly markets allow them to refine setup, harvest schedules, inventory amounts and make connections for job opportunities. Supplying super local, nutrient dense, organic vegetables is a very rewarding experience for everyone!


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