TCDSB land sale to likely uproot community garden

After 13 years, Scarborough’s Always Growing Garden may be shutting down.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board has put the land the community garden occupies up for sale as part of a plan to generate revenue for its schools.

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“We knew this was eventually going to happen, but we had hoped it wasn’t for a few more years,” said Margarite Alaske, a pastor and co-founder of the McCowan Road and Eglinton Avenue East garden.

The property will likely be sold and paved over by next summer, Alaske said. Six years ago, another property the community used as a food bank was sold and redeveloped as a townhouse complex.

“It will be missed,” said Dennis Drum, garden coordinator for the Always Growing Garden. “A lot of people gained a lot of food from that small piece of property.”

The Always Growing Garden was founded 13 years ago by seven people and has since expanded to 47 families. The food grown at the garden feeds local families and goes to food banks. Between 230 and 450 kilograms of vegetables are grown each season.

“We’re seeing a loss of enrolment across the GTA,” said Angelo Sangiorgio, associate director of planning facilities for the board. “As students decline, so does the funding from the government.”

Staff at the school board recently confirmed four closed schools and three vacant lots, including the community garden, are up for sale.

The board intends to reinvest the money from the sales in operating costs and school improvement. In Scarborough, the board will replace Saint Nicholas Catholic School and build a new school in the Morningside Heights community.

Drum said he’s not upset the garden property is up for sale. Instead, he said he’s very appreciative, as the board provided the space to the community for free since 1997.

He added he’s unsure if the garden will relocate somewhere nearby in the community.

“If not then we’re done,” Drum said.