Spurred on by my friends in the environmental group - Neighbours for the Planet - and my (almost) retirement, I decided to fulfill my wish to grow food this year for the first time in a while.
I have lived in the same home in Richmond Hill for decades. When my children were small, we had a vegetable patch which taught them where food actually comes from, patience and an appreciation for nature. Since that time, our garden has become shaded by several huge trees and is no longer suitable for vegetables. So, I started a search for an allotment garden i.e. a plot of land on public land in which residents can grow food. The search was tricky at the beginning. The City-run gardens were full, with waiting lists. Others were available to members of faith or other community groups and not taking new members. Further enquiries led me to the Forster Collective – located in the Phyllis Rawlinson Park in Richmond Hill. They had space to allocate one half plot to me, but were waiting to hear whether COVID-19 was going to shut us down for the season. Thankfully they were open all summer!
And now I’ve just finished my first season using the allotment garden. It has made me decide me that I am in the right place at the right time, and I hope to continue gardening there indefinitely. The group is an amazing group of people; young and old, born in Canada and all over the globe. We are united by a love of nature, of connection to the land and a will to work together to provide food for our families and to donate to the community.
My first crops gave me huge satisfaction. The considerable labour needed to clear former farm land, plant and carry water to irrigate the growing plants was in itself a joy. The organic food was delicious. I have stored potatoes to last until Christmas. Brussel sprouts and kale continue to be harvested. Last week I planted garlic which I will harvest a year from now.
I have taken on another half plot which will expand my work commitment and, hopefully, my food supply. The cold spring and virus-caused delays in beginning work this year meant we were unable to make donations of food, hold team building social events, nor workshops. That will all change next year.
There is a lot of work ahead for me as an individual and for the group as a whole. However; we all love our little piece of paradise and the sense of pride in coaxing crops from the earth. If you love growing vegetables and have no place to grow them, you might consider applying for an allotment garden plot in the early spring.
Click here for the City of Richmond Hill's information on Community and Allotment Gardens