Community Garden 2.0

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Planks of cedar wood are being constructed into raised bed garden frames for the community garden at the University of Ottawa

The sun is back in full force and that means community garden time here at the University of Ottawa. This marks our 9th year of community gardening on campus and this year we are making a couple of upgrades.

If you know anything about the gardens on campus then you know that you have to be dedicated to survive the ups and downs. The first incarnation of the community garden was created in 2004 and was comprised of a couple of individual plots and two larger communal plots. The garden grew slowly until in 2009 a new location was added to augment the number of spaces to about 30. Unfortunately a year later that space was designated as the construction site of the new ARC building.

Not to fret, a new location was inaugurated at 649 King Edward immediately. So here we are in 2013 with two community garden locations and almost 50 plots to work on. Things are looking pretty sweet.... but why rest when you can push boundaries?

Admittedly it is hard to "push the envelop" when you are talking about community gardens but we did do our best to bring about some changes that would make gardening more accessible on campus and to give our little garden a bit more credibility.

As mentioned in a previous post, this year we are experimenting with mobile community garden plots. These plots are small and compact and are therefore perfectly suited to be moved around if need be. This arose as a design challenge because of the lack of open space on campus. The mobile gardens will allow us to plant in various places on campus and not have to worry about whether we need to relocate on a moments notice.

The second thing we have introduced this year are proper raised beds. In the past the garden has sometimes been mistaken for a "pet cemetery" which is good for scaring off garden thieves, but maybe not so good for visibility. This year a plan was introduced that will create raised beds for all the garden spaces and will take about 3 years to complete.

We are also going to create pollinator hot spots around the garden. Using selected plants species, we will attract pollinators to the community garden where they will hopefully give a helping hand to our gardens.

And finally this year we will be re-introducing community plots. These plots will be open plots for individuals to practice gardening something they have never tried before or to take some of the extra herbs. We are looking to partner with groups like the Aboriginal Resource Centre to create themed plots (in this case a native and indigenous species garden).

If you would like more information about the community garden, check out the website or contact the community garden coordinator. If you want to check out some pictures of the community garden, visit our Facebook page.

~ jON - campus sustainability manager
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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