Monday, August 13, 2018

The CRC Community Gardens - Why Are They Important?

Have you ever wanted to grow a vegetable or a fruit, but didn’t know where to start or what to get? Ever wanted to be in a team of gardeners? Ever wanted to own a patch of fertile soil for freshly grown food? Now you can with the CRC Gardens in Regent Park. In the 1980s, social workers began realizing that many people in Regent Park were not accessing fresh fruits and vegetables. This was because residents of Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) apartment buildings did not have access to their own land to grow food, and fruits and vegetables simply cost too much. Aware that people were choosing to sacrifice basic healthy foods to pay for other necessities, community groups began to petition Toronto Community Housing for communal land to establish community gardens. One of the first community gardens was set up behind a TCHC building located in North Regent at 600 Dundas Street East, now the site of the entrance to the Big Park.

Today, managed mainly by the Christian Resource Centre (CRC), the Regent Park community gardens provide fresh produce for families throughout the neighbourhood, and it also offers great educational opportunities for children, youth, and seniors through hands-on gardening programs.

Ashrafi Ahmed, CRC’s Community Gardens Facilitator, led me on a tour of the allotment gardens. At each site, the tour was met by gardeners who were more than happy to show off their plots and proudly explain in detail the types of plants they grew. According to Ahmed, CRC provides opportunities for 200 families to grow and harvest fresh vegetables through the coordination of allotment gardens at 259 Sumach Street, 184 River Street, 295 Gerrard Street, the Regent Street Multi-Garden, and the Pop-up Container Garden at Regent Park Boulevard Mews at Sumach Street.

“At the beginning of the growing season, because of the maintenance fee, we charge ten dollars to own your own plot of soil, but we do have two types of gardens. We have communal and individual gardens. The only problem is that there is a waiting list for individual gardens because there are a lot of people who wish to grow plants, but there are always volunteer opportunities, which do grant access to the gardens free of charge,” said Ahmed.

To find out more about how you can get involved contact Ashrafi Ahmed at ashrafia@tcrc.ca.

By: Divine Bailey

Regent Park Focus Media Arts Centre

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