Community Gardens in Regent Park

Ashrafi & Emily June 2014 smWith springtime finally here, we are once again excited about gardening at CRC.

And this year we will be expanding on CRC’s long tradition of supporting community gardening in the neighbourhood, through our partnership with Community Food Centres Canada and the launch of the CRC Regent Park Community Food Centre.

We are eagerly watching the construction of our two new community gardens – one right in front of our building here at 40 Oaks, and one down the street in the new park next to the Regent Park Aquatic Centre, called “Regent Park”.

In addition to a community garden, the new “Regent Park” will also include a greenhouse and a wood-fired bake oven – exciting new additions to the neighbourhood that will offer much opportunity to bring people together around fresh, healthy food. We are pleased to be partnering with Green Thumbs Growing Kids, and Dixon Hall, to provide a range of innovative programs.   And our garden at 40 Oaks will bring together tenants, participants, and local families to grow fresh produce that will be shared between those pitching in, and our community meal program.

Community Gardens“Sharing and developing skills through gardening is a core part of the community food centre approach. It is one of the many ways that we are working to increase access to fresh, healthy food for community members here in Regent Park,” comments Liz Curran, Community Food Centre Manager.

To help us with all of this, CRC is has welcomed Emily Martyn to our team as Urban Agriculture Coordinator. Emily will be working with the community to bring these two new gardens to life. She brings a wide range of experience working with community gardens across the city of Toronto through the Toronto Community Garden Network and her work as Community Animation Program Lead at Housing Services Corporation, where she supported resident-led food and gardening programs in social housing.

“As construction continues in the area, we want the vibrant gardening communities that flourished prior to revitalization to remain a strong part of the social fabric in Regent Park”, Emily remarks. “We are so excited to be launching our new gardens, which will serve as gathering spaces where gardeners from across the neighbourhood can come together to grow, learn, and share in a way that celebrates the diversity of this growing community.”

CRC is also fortunate to have Ashrafi Ahmed on our team. She provides leadership for our three community allotment gardens, which provide 64 families the opportunity to grow fresh produce throughout the growing season.

“These gardens are a good place to form friendships with other gardeners”, explains Ashrafi. “People come together to share experiences and plant knowledge from different cultures and countries, and to grow their own food, which all helps to build up a stronger community.”

But these allotment gardens will eventually be lost in the next phases of revitalization. This makes the development of the two new community gardens and the CRC’s programming around them all that much more important to continuing to allow gardening opportunities for the residents of Regent Park.

By early August, the two new community gardens should be well on their way. If you are in the area, stop by, take a look, and share in the enjoyment of fresh local vegetable being grown here in Regent Park.

May 2014


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