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​​​Community Garden

Newsletter 1 - May 2014​​

Thank you for attending and/or showing interest in the Town’s Community Gardens Workshop held on April 17, 2014.  Your feedback and input was incredibly valuable and is being used to design the policy and facility for the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury’s first community garden!  If you have any other comments, suggestions, or insights you wish to share, please feel free to forward them to!

The purpose of this newsletter is to provide you with a summary of the findings from the workshop, let you know where we are in the process, and to introduce the new Community Gardens website!

Workshop Results

The Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury hosted a public community gardens workshop on April 17, 2014, at the BWG Library and Cultural Centre.  It was well attended and the enthusiasm and quality of the participation was evident in the findings.

The pie chart below demonstrates the nature of participant interest in the creation of a community garden facility in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury:

The diversity of the participation in our community garden initiative tells us that although there are several community groups interested in using a community garden, there is also a significant amount of interest from residents who are not necessarily affiliated with a community group.  Therefore, any community garden facility provided by the Town will be operated in an open and inclusive manner.

Exercises & Results

Location map exercise:
An aerial photograph of the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury was placed at the front of the room and titled: “Where Do You Want Your Community Garden?” Participants were asked to consider suitable locations for a potential community garden and to indicate their preferences by placing sticky arrows on the air photo. A disclaimer was provided that no location could be guaranteed; however, participant preferences would help guide staff in finding a suitable location. Eleven different locations were identified with four locations having multiple identifications of interest.

Staff update: The location map exercise was reviewed with Leisure, Parks, and Facilities staff and potential locations have been identified and short-listed. Once operational and capital issues are addressed and a location finalized, it will be made public. This is expected by June 4, 2014.

Table top exercise:  
Participants were asked to discuss with their group and identify the potential users of a community garden and what they would use it for. The purpose of this exercise was for staff to gain an understanding of the types of accommodations needed for a community garden facility and get a head start on thinking about programing opportunities for the future. The results have been aggregated in the chart below:

​Users​​ ​Uses​
  • Seniors (provides opportunity to create social situations, continue gardening, potential to mix age groups)
  • Students – elementary/high school
  • Low income individuals and families
  • Individuals
  • Families
  • Cultural groups
  • Food bank
  • People with disabilities (raised garden beds)
  • Condominium and apartment dwellers
  • Opportunities for those without land
  • Diversity of people and needs
  • Under privileged
  • ​​Education
  • Celebrating differences
  • Nutrition
  • Food skills
  • Critical life skills – partnerships, cooking, gleaning (pears, apples, zucchini)
  • Zucchini, peas, beans, lettuce, radishes, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, green and yellow beans, green peppers, cultural foods
  • Combination of communal and allotment gardens so people can choose which is most suitable for their needs
  • Provide items to weekly community meals
  • Create gardens related to historical time periods
  • Develop skills related to harvesting, including canning, preserving
  • Dwarf fruit trees for learning and getting produce
  • Companion planting​

Post-it exercise:  
Participants were asked to brainstorm with their group and using the coloured post-it notes provided, asked to write down community garden “needs” and “wants.”  The purpose of the exercise was to help staff gain an understanding of the types of facilities required to implement a community garden while providing ideas for future improvement of such facilities.  The results have been aggregated in the chart below:

Needs​​ Wants​
  • Rain barrel
  • Compost heap
  • Security
  • Cedar wood for beds (cannot use pressure treated wood)
  • Worms
  • Soil in sunshine
  • Water sources
  • Plants, not just seeds
  • Implements
  • Stakes
  • Wood chips for pathways
  • Plant markers
  • Triple mix
  • Water source
  • Shed and tools
  • Bathroom facility
  • Raised beds
  • Deep beds
  • Mulch (at least 6” to reduce water use)
  • Garbage receptacles
  • Seed exchange event
  • Sunlight
  • Seat in shade
  • Municipal water source
  • Tools 
  • ​​​Gardening tools
  • Online website with schedule.
  • Composter
  • Large pots
  • Water line/pump from SWM ponds
  • Bench 
  • Table
  • Shelter
  • Water barrels
  • Trellis
  • Shade
  • Seating
  • Picnic table
  • Bird detractors: reflectors, scarecrow
  • Security
  • Portable toilet
  • Vertical trellises
  • Benches, stones
  • Little free library
  • Bike rack
  • Gazebo/pergola
  • Shaded areas
  • Rabbit proof fencing
  • Educational training materials
  • Bee house
  • Organic/heirloom seeds plans
  • Seed library
  • Transit accessible
  • Soilless mix (½ peat, ¼ sand, ¼ vermiculite)

​Open discussion:  
The last exercise was an open participatory discussion seeking clarification as to the size of beds and the amount of land needed to establish a community garden.  This generated some positive dialogue towards the design of the facility.  Town staff heard that:

  • Beds should be 8’ long;
  • Beds should be 3’ wide (4’ is too hard for some to reach to the middle);
  • Beds should be 2’ high to allow access for persons using mobility devices; and
  • Beds designed specifically for children could be 8” to 12” high.

Staff update: The needs and wants exercise, as well as the bed design discussion were reviewed with Leisure, Parks, and Facilities staff.  We are confident that the community garden facility will be constructed in such a manner as to allow flexibility for its users.

Next Steps

At the end of the workshop, staff identified a work plan explaining the next steps towards implementing a community garden facility in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury for 2014.  Staff have been diligently working behind the scenes and have either completed or are continuing to work towards completing the following:​

  • Work with Leisure Services to assess potential sites. COMPLETE!
  • Review Town by-laws, policies, and regulations to ensure compliance. COMPLETE!
  • Foster relationship with community group(s). – In progress 
  • Create Community Gardens Policy. DRAFT COMPLETE!
  • Obtain Council approval. – Scheduled for June 17, 2014! 
  • Implement, build, create, and grow! – Coming soon!

​Once a draft version of the Community Garden policy is created, it will be provided on the Town’s website for public review and comment.  Your assistance in this regard would be greatly appreciated!