The growing city: Toronto offers urban agriculture opportunities

Community Aug 31, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

From boosting food security to helping the environment, building community and adding green space in cities, urban agriculture provides plenty of benefits.

The trend is growing in Toronto, and while there are still obstacles, such as finding space and securing the right to use it, more and more urban gardens are bringing green, and greens, to Toronto.

The city boasts 12 outdoor allotment gardens and one indoor garden where residents can rent plots, and a growing number of organizations across the city give residents a chance to get their hands dirty, learn the basics of planting and bring some fresh food home.

“In cities, green space is at a premium, especially publicly accessible green space,” said Rhonda Teitel-Payne of Toronto Urban Growers. “In the downtown core in particular, there’s a lot of built environment and not a lot of green space, but in some ways the space that’s there is more accessible than the space that’s available in the suburbs.”

Teitel-Payne noted that urban agriculture is cropping up in a variety of ways, from public gardens in parks to private gardens, backyard and rooftop spaces, to aquaponics. Still, when looking to start up a community garden, she noted organizers often wind up fighting an uphill battle.

“There are issues getting permission to install a project, issues with zoning, and some (property) owners are a little skeptical – they want to see the impact urban gardens will have,” she said. “Some property owners think community gardens will be ugly, messy or cause problems on the property.”

The City can also put up roadblocks, with an application process in place for those who wish to start up a community garden in parks or on other city-owned property.

Garth Armour, manager of horticulture at the City of Toronto, noted the process is not onerous, but said a number of factors must be taken into account before approval is granted.

“First, we ask for a lead (organizer) and a second lead so we have two people organizing the group, and a list of who the garden members will be,” he said. “Then we look at the financial requirements and resources and we have to take into account that park land is in great demand in a city the size of Toronto.”

Because park land is so scarce in many parts of the city, it can be difficult to find a site that does not have other uses, for instance as a popular picnic or recreational space, and that there is adequate parking and water access. Other considerations such as what will be grown there and maintenance of the space are also key.

“We want to make sure the garden’s in a position to succeed,” Armour said.

Toronto Urban Growers is currently working to secure space for large-scale public gardens in hydro corridors in Malvern and Flemingdon, a process they have been working toward for four years. Soil safety and ensuring there are no negative effects due to the hydro towers and electromagnetic current in the area have been among the steps required before approval will be granted.

Teitel-Payne said more space is key in a city where demand for gardening space outpaces supply.

“The waiting list for community gardens can be really long so we’re always looking for more space,” she said. “What we need are more community gardens where people can see the benefits and the success stories.”

She added that the gardens do more than provide green space and provide healthy food options in a city where many families find their food budgets stretched.

“The opportunities for people to learn from each other and share stories are phenomenal,” she said. “It’s really fun to see people from so many different countries growing similar things that they use in different ways.”

Darcy Higgins of food security-based social venture Building Roots concurred, noting that at the group’s Edible Allan Gardens site downtown, a dozen community partners come together to grow, learn and share.

“It’s an opportunity for people to eat what they’re growing and try really delicious food right out of the garden, and it’s an opportunity for youth to learn how to grow food,” he said. “Some of the people who use the space are experienced gardeners who don’t have space downtown and some have never grown in their lives.”

Most importantly, however, it’s a way to bring people together. Higgins said meeting outdoors over food brings people from different age, cultural and socioeconomic demographics together over a shared love of food.

The upcoming Urban Ag Day Toronto with an event at Scadding Court Community Centre from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15 will showcase some of the city’s urban agriculture assets and provide people with a chance to get involved in urban growing. For more information, visit www.uadayto.wordpress.com

***

The City of Toronto has 13 official city-run allotment gardens where residents can rent plots to grow their own food. The sites are:

·         Bishop Avenue, 190 Bishop Ave.  (Finch and Bayview)

·         Cornell Campbell House, 3620 Kingston Rd. (Kingston and Brinloor)

·         Daventry, 19 Daventry Rd. (Markham and Ellesmere)

·         Four Winds, 20 Four Winds Dr. (Keele and Finch)

·         Givendale, 950 Kennedy Rd. (Kennedy and Ranstone Gardens)

·         High Park, 1873 Bloor St. (Bloor and Keele)

·         Jonesville, 50 Jonesville Cres. (Victoria Park and Eglinton)

·         Leslie Street, 5 Leslie St. (Leslie and Commissioners)

·         Marie Baldwin Park, 746 Jane St. (Jane and Scarlett)

·         Silverthorne Allotments, 458 Old Weston Rd. (St. Clair and Old Weston)

·         Stoffel Drive, 20 Stoffel Dr. (Martin Grove and Dixon)

·         West Deane, 410 Martin Grove Rd. (Martin Grove and Rathburn)

·         Riverlea Greenhouse (indoor), 919 Scarlett Rd. (Scarlett and Lawrence)

The growing city: Toronto offers urban agriculture opportunities

Community Aug 31, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

From boosting food security to helping the environment, building community and adding green space in cities, urban agriculture provides plenty of benefits.

The trend is growing in Toronto, and while there are still obstacles, such as finding space and securing the right to use it, more and more urban gardens are bringing green, and greens, to Toronto.

The city boasts 12 outdoor allotment gardens and one indoor garden where residents can rent plots, and a growing number of organizations across the city give residents a chance to get their hands dirty, learn the basics of planting and bring some fresh food home.

“In cities, green space is at a premium, especially publicly accessible green space,” said Rhonda Teitel-Payne of Toronto Urban Growers. “In the downtown core in particular, there’s a lot of built environment and not a lot of green space, but in some ways the space that’s there is more accessible than the space that’s available in the suburbs.”

Teitel-Payne noted that urban agriculture is cropping up in a variety of ways, from public gardens in parks to private gardens, backyard and rooftop spaces, to aquaponics. Still, when looking to start up a community garden, she noted organizers often wind up fighting an uphill battle.

“There are issues getting permission to install a project, issues with zoning, and some (property) owners are a little skeptical – they want to see the impact urban gardens will have,” she said. “Some property owners think community gardens will be ugly, messy or cause problems on the property.”

The City can also put up roadblocks, with an application process in place for those who wish to start up a community garden in parks or on other city-owned property.

Garth Armour, manager of horticulture at the City of Toronto, noted the process is not onerous, but said a number of factors must be taken into account before approval is granted.

“First, we ask for a lead (organizer) and a second lead so we have two people organizing the group, and a list of who the garden members will be,” he said. “Then we look at the financial requirements and resources and we have to take into account that park land is in great demand in a city the size of Toronto.”

Because park land is so scarce in many parts of the city, it can be difficult to find a site that does not have other uses, for instance as a popular picnic or recreational space, and that there is adequate parking and water access. Other considerations such as what will be grown there and maintenance of the space are also key.

“We want to make sure the garden’s in a position to succeed,” Armour said.

Toronto Urban Growers is currently working to secure space for large-scale public gardens in hydro corridors in Malvern and Flemingdon, a process they have been working toward for four years. Soil safety and ensuring there are no negative effects due to the hydro towers and electromagnetic current in the area have been among the steps required before approval will be granted.

Teitel-Payne said more space is key in a city where demand for gardening space outpaces supply.

“The waiting list for community gardens can be really long so we’re always looking for more space,” she said. “What we need are more community gardens where people can see the benefits and the success stories.”

She added that the gardens do more than provide green space and provide healthy food options in a city where many families find their food budgets stretched.

“The opportunities for people to learn from each other and share stories are phenomenal,” she said. “It’s really fun to see people from so many different countries growing similar things that they use in different ways.”

Darcy Higgins of food security-based social venture Building Roots concurred, noting that at the group’s Edible Allan Gardens site downtown, a dozen community partners come together to grow, learn and share.

“It’s an opportunity for people to eat what they’re growing and try really delicious food right out of the garden, and it’s an opportunity for youth to learn how to grow food,” he said. “Some of the people who use the space are experienced gardeners who don’t have space downtown and some have never grown in their lives.”

Most importantly, however, it’s a way to bring people together. Higgins said meeting outdoors over food brings people from different age, cultural and socioeconomic demographics together over a shared love of food.

The upcoming Urban Ag Day Toronto with an event at Scadding Court Community Centre from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15 will showcase some of the city’s urban agriculture assets and provide people with a chance to get involved in urban growing. For more information, visit www.uadayto.wordpress.com

***

The City of Toronto has 13 official city-run allotment gardens where residents can rent plots to grow their own food. The sites are:

·         Bishop Avenue, 190 Bishop Ave.  (Finch and Bayview)

·         Cornell Campbell House, 3620 Kingston Rd. (Kingston and Brinloor)

·         Daventry, 19 Daventry Rd. (Markham and Ellesmere)

·         Four Winds, 20 Four Winds Dr. (Keele and Finch)

·         Givendale, 950 Kennedy Rd. (Kennedy and Ranstone Gardens)

·         High Park, 1873 Bloor St. (Bloor and Keele)

·         Jonesville, 50 Jonesville Cres. (Victoria Park and Eglinton)

·         Leslie Street, 5 Leslie St. (Leslie and Commissioners)

·         Marie Baldwin Park, 746 Jane St. (Jane and Scarlett)

·         Silverthorne Allotments, 458 Old Weston Rd. (St. Clair and Old Weston)

·         Stoffel Drive, 20 Stoffel Dr. (Martin Grove and Dixon)

·         West Deane, 410 Martin Grove Rd. (Martin Grove and Rathburn)

·         Riverlea Greenhouse (indoor), 919 Scarlett Rd. (Scarlett and Lawrence)

The growing city: Toronto offers urban agriculture opportunities

Community Aug 31, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

From boosting food security to helping the environment, building community and adding green space in cities, urban agriculture provides plenty of benefits.

The trend is growing in Toronto, and while there are still obstacles, such as finding space and securing the right to use it, more and more urban gardens are bringing green, and greens, to Toronto.

The city boasts 12 outdoor allotment gardens and one indoor garden where residents can rent plots, and a growing number of organizations across the city give residents a chance to get their hands dirty, learn the basics of planting and bring some fresh food home.

“In cities, green space is at a premium, especially publicly accessible green space,” said Rhonda Teitel-Payne of Toronto Urban Growers. “In the downtown core in particular, there’s a lot of built environment and not a lot of green space, but in some ways the space that’s there is more accessible than the space that’s available in the suburbs.”

Teitel-Payne noted that urban agriculture is cropping up in a variety of ways, from public gardens in parks to private gardens, backyard and rooftop spaces, to aquaponics. Still, when looking to start up a community garden, she noted organizers often wind up fighting an uphill battle.

“There are issues getting permission to install a project, issues with zoning, and some (property) owners are a little skeptical – they want to see the impact urban gardens will have,” she said. “Some property owners think community gardens will be ugly, messy or cause problems on the property.”

The City can also put up roadblocks, with an application process in place for those who wish to start up a community garden in parks or on other city-owned property.

Garth Armour, manager of horticulture at the City of Toronto, noted the process is not onerous, but said a number of factors must be taken into account before approval is granted.

“First, we ask for a lead (organizer) and a second lead so we have two people organizing the group, and a list of who the garden members will be,” he said. “Then we look at the financial requirements and resources and we have to take into account that park land is in great demand in a city the size of Toronto.”

Because park land is so scarce in many parts of the city, it can be difficult to find a site that does not have other uses, for instance as a popular picnic or recreational space, and that there is adequate parking and water access. Other considerations such as what will be grown there and maintenance of the space are also key.

“We want to make sure the garden’s in a position to succeed,” Armour said.

Toronto Urban Growers is currently working to secure space for large-scale public gardens in hydro corridors in Malvern and Flemingdon, a process they have been working toward for four years. Soil safety and ensuring there are no negative effects due to the hydro towers and electromagnetic current in the area have been among the steps required before approval will be granted.

Teitel-Payne said more space is key in a city where demand for gardening space outpaces supply.

“The waiting list for community gardens can be really long so we’re always looking for more space,” she said. “What we need are more community gardens where people can see the benefits and the success stories.”

She added that the gardens do more than provide green space and provide healthy food options in a city where many families find their food budgets stretched.

“The opportunities for people to learn from each other and share stories are phenomenal,” she said. “It’s really fun to see people from so many different countries growing similar things that they use in different ways.”

Darcy Higgins of food security-based social venture Building Roots concurred, noting that at the group’s Edible Allan Gardens site downtown, a dozen community partners come together to grow, learn and share.

“It’s an opportunity for people to eat what they’re growing and try really delicious food right out of the garden, and it’s an opportunity for youth to learn how to grow food,” he said. “Some of the people who use the space are experienced gardeners who don’t have space downtown and some have never grown in their lives.”

Most importantly, however, it’s a way to bring people together. Higgins said meeting outdoors over food brings people from different age, cultural and socioeconomic demographics together over a shared love of food.

The upcoming Urban Ag Day Toronto with an event at Scadding Court Community Centre from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15 will showcase some of the city’s urban agriculture assets and provide people with a chance to get involved in urban growing. For more information, visit www.uadayto.wordpress.com

***

The City of Toronto has 13 official city-run allotment gardens where residents can rent plots to grow their own food. The sites are:

·         Bishop Avenue, 190 Bishop Ave.  (Finch and Bayview)

·         Cornell Campbell House, 3620 Kingston Rd. (Kingston and Brinloor)

·         Daventry, 19 Daventry Rd. (Markham and Ellesmere)

·         Four Winds, 20 Four Winds Dr. (Keele and Finch)

·         Givendale, 950 Kennedy Rd. (Kennedy and Ranstone Gardens)

·         High Park, 1873 Bloor St. (Bloor and Keele)

·         Jonesville, 50 Jonesville Cres. (Victoria Park and Eglinton)

·         Leslie Street, 5 Leslie St. (Leslie and Commissioners)

·         Marie Baldwin Park, 746 Jane St. (Jane and Scarlett)

·         Silverthorne Allotments, 458 Old Weston Rd. (St. Clair and Old Weston)

·         Stoffel Drive, 20 Stoffel Dr. (Martin Grove and Dixon)

·         West Deane, 410 Martin Grove Rd. (Martin Grove and Rathburn)

·         Riverlea Greenhouse (indoor), 919 Scarlett Rd. (Scarlett and Lawrence)