Vertical gardens, a multi-level greenhouse and garden workshop space, are just a few of the ideas local green thumbs dug up at the community visioning workshop for 87 Milky Way Garden in Parkdale Monday night.
More than 30 people sat together at different tables redesigning and re-envisioning the 7,000 square foot space located just behind the Parkdale Library where the meeting was held by Greenest City.
“We intentionally wanted it to be just a big brainstorming session where people can really throw out any ideas they may have,” said Monique Kelemen, the program co-ordinator at Greenest City
“Even if it’s not feasible, there’s a truth or there’s a story behind why they want it and I think another idea can be pulled from it and tell us something else.”
Participants in the workshop were asked to come up with different ideas in the five categories of social inclusion and gathering; social enterprise, access to green space and environmental education; urban agriculture and food security; and other suggestions.
Some ideas being tossed around included creating a forest garden, ensuring the garden is accessible with raised gardening beds, creating revenue through the garden for the garden, security and safety of the plants in the space, linking neighbourhood schools through educational activities and allow workshops led by community members for employment opportunities.
The garden, managed by Greenest City, is on the first piece of land acquired by the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT), a nonprofit organization dedicated to acquiring land in Parkdale for community purposes such as affordable housing and urban agriculture.
It was also initially tended to by Tibetan students of an English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) class taught by Tish Carnat for the past decade. At the time only half the space was used, but with a community cleanup last summer the entire space is ready for the community shape.
Carnat told The Villager she’s hoping the new garden gives her students the chance to help the community and themselves.
“One of my visions is that the Tibetans will welcome other people into the class and get the opportunity to actually speak English, by helping others garden. This could be a natural way that they can speak English and practice in a real way,” Carnat told the Villager.
“They feel confident in the garden and I think they have so much to offer the Parkdale community at large.”
Kelemen noted that the ESL students are one of the most important stakeholders in this project because of their long-standing connection to the garden. She’s also hoping to bring in community members to help out either through a program or group that helps out too.
One participant Adeline Cohen, noted it was important that the garden itself be sustainable for years to come as food security is a growing issue in this community and ensuring it gets to the right people who need it.
Greenest City plans to come back to the community on April 12 with the feedback and suggestions collected at this meeting.