Should all go according to plan, Oriole Park will soon be home to Ward 22’s first community garden.
Councillor Josh Matlow is working with stakeholder groups in hopes of establishing a stewardship committee to launch and oversee the project, which requires a few volunteers to help it get off the ground.
Oriole Park could be an ideal site for a community garden as the park is adjacent to Brentwood Towers, where tenants have no gardening space of their own.
Matlow said he hopes the garden will provide not only gardening opportunities, but also potentially fresh fruits and vegetables for Brentwood Towers residents.
“I’ve heard very clearly from residents that they want more community gardens not just in this ward, but across the city,” he said. “Especially in areas where there are a lot of tenants, people would really like access to a community garden.”
The plan as it stands calls for a small plot of land near Frobisher Avenue on the south side of the park.
“It would be right near the entrance to the (Kay Gardner) Beltline,” the councillor said. “There are some small hills there and that creates a natural boundary.”
Should the plan be successful, Matlow said, there will always be the possibility of expanding the garden in the future.
Groups such as Friends of Oriole Park, the Oriole Park Association, the Deer Park Residents’ Group, Appletree Markets and the Toronto Green Community have already been contacted regarding the plan, as have representatives from Brentwood Towers.
That marks an important first step in the process, which requires approval from the City of Toronto. Community gardens that do not have city approval are at risk of being removed, as was the case earlier this year with a garden built without permission in Queen’s Park.
“We need to put together a committee and get organized, and then we can start with the formal city process,” Matlow said.
The city must approve sites for a number of reasons, including soil testing. The councillor added his office will contribute some funding to the project and planting boxes could be installed if the soil is found to be unsuitable.
Matlow said there are many benefits to having a community garden in the ward.
“It gives people access to fresh food and it also brings residents together, gets them outside and connects them with nature,” he said.
Anyone interested in the project is asked to contact Matlow’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-392-7906.