What comes to mind when thinking of a community garden? For most, it will conjure images of a single plot of land used to grow a variety of produce, tended to by a group of volunteers. Food produced by a community garden is typically free for the taking, or is donated to local food banks or directly to those in need of food.
Thanks to an innovative idea, the Kemptville Campus is now spearheading a different way of looking at community gardening, with an anticipated launch in the spring. Leela Ramachandran is a Project Manager at Kemptville Campus. With the support of Claude Smith, she has taken on a leadership role with the new community garden project. Unlike other projects that have one large garden tended by volunteers, this new garden would be divided into plots, with individual families or organizations signing up to tend a specific plot for their own use.
This new concept is not just about food production. It is also a way to engage the community by having a “mini-ecosystem” on site at the Campus. Now that the Campus has been established as its own not-for-profit organization, with its own board of directors and master plan, the organization is focusing on three so-called “pillars”, or goals for the community which include education and training, health and wellness, and local economic development.
Leela explained that Campus staff reached out online to gauge if there would be any interest from the public, and the response was very strong in favour of the establishment of the garden. An initial public meeting took place on January 10 at the Campus to discuss the project. The meeting went well, with great attendance and much positivity. Future meetings would focus on logistical issues, such as getting adequate water and compost to the site, and how garden plots would be assigned. Future meetings would also be used to explore fundraising opportunities, and to establish what rules would apply to the garden since there would be many people working in a shared space.
There is flexibility in the allotment-style gardening model. While its primary purpose is to empower individuals and families to grow their own food when they don’t have enough space or the right type of space at home, the model also allows certain plots to be earmarked for charitable purposes, such as donations to food banks. These plots could be tended by volunteers.
One way that the new community garden could help foster education is by welcoming tours from school and daycare groups. Leela has already received interest from both a school and a daycare regarding having their own plot, which would be a great way for local children to learn about food production. Other community events could take place on site as well, over time.
The space for the proposed community garden project was already prepared in the fall, before the winter weather set in. It is ready to help families grow food and make memories in the spring. Anyone interested in getting involved or seeking more information should contact Leela by phone at 613-258-8336 ext. 4, or by email at [email protected].