Garden blooms early

Yamini Rasiah, an employee of the East Scarborough Storefront
Yamini Rasiah, an employee of the East Scarborough Storefront, is cleaning up the stones at the community garden at 4040 Lawrence Ave. E.

Not every gardener nurtures plants or trees with snow.

However, at the beginning of February, the East Scarborough Storefront got off a head start and launched their year-long project Community Garden at 4040 Lawrence Ave. E.

The old water tower, built more than 30 years ago, has been the object of complaints from local residents for several years, and was finally demolished in July of 2007. The property on 4040 Lawrence Ave. E. is now being used to start a new community garden.

“People in this community always wanted the community garden,” says Dip Habib, coordinator of the East Scarborough Storefront, a local group that organized the new garden. However, there was not much land that we could use.

“Last summer, Ward 43 councillor Paul Ainslie and the city of Toronto pushed forward the project of creating a community garden. It’s been a year of work in progress.”

Free plots will be assigned to individual families or community groups living in the Morningside and Orton Park area.

Supporters believe the garden will not only serve the community with fresh vegetables and flowers, it will give residents an opportunity to network and interact with others peacefully.

“Community gardens are good for strengthening the neighborhood’s networks and safety,” says Amanda Montgomery, a worker at the Stop Community Food Centre. “Those gardens are also good for helping us relax by improving the sense of love and by being able to spend time with family and friends.

“Gardening is a very intergenerational activity and a wonderful exercise.”

Those who wish a plot can sign up at the East Scarborough Storefront, at the 4040 Lawrence Ave. E. community building.

Because of the interest from youth groups and other agencies in the community garden, the size of plots, the number of participants and designs still need to be discussed.

“Typically each plot in the community garden will be four feet by 10 feet,” Montgomery says. “There are tons of different types of gardens producing fresh vegetables and flowers.

“For example, at the communal garden, a little bit of food will belong to the volunteers but the purpose of this garden is to grow food for the community.”

Christian Ward, who came to the meeting with his son and wife, is one local resident interested in sharing.

“If any of the food that I produce comes back here to feed someone who needs it, I will really appreciate that,” he said.

“The relationships among the residents are also important, Ward added. “I would love my son to learn something from the gardening.”

A lot of hands-on training workshops providing information on fertilizers, seasoning, and garden design, will be offered in March and April. There are also plans to organize and gather the community garden leaders in Scarborough to share their experiences.

Gardening will begin in the middle of March.