Parry Sound is Growing Community Gardens
July 28, 2014
Posted in: Uncategorized
Parry Sound Community Gardens is a remarkable community initiative that has really taken root since Jo-Anne Demick of CLPS, inspired by an article she read, took the idea to a management team meeting for consideration . Jo-Anne wanted to start a community garden to promote healthy living for all and suggested that CLPS partner with other groups in Parry Sound to get it going. In 2009 community partners; the Health Unit, Georgian Bay Biosphere, the District Social Services Board and Community Living Parry Sound created the first garden and divided it into10, 10’x10’ plots. Today Parry Sound has 5 Community Gardens throughout the community. Rick Harrington, of CLPS and Steering Committee member, says he ‘has had no trouble finding gardeners to take plots’ in the gardens that have sprung up since 2009.Rick Harrington of Community Living Parry Sound, helps coordinate the Community Gardens
Sarah Harris, this year’s Community Cultivator, was hired through the Canada Summer Jobs program. She explains, “There are five Community Gardens. The locations of these are behind Waubeek Day Care, at Mission Park, at Yvonne Williams Park and at the front and back of Canadore College. Each garden contains plots the gardeners apply for, plant and up keep. The plots are free but each gardener is asked to donate 20% of their produce over the summer. There are produce donation bins at each garden for the gardeners to put their produce in. The Community Cultivator checks the produce bins every day. The produce is then distributed to The Salvation Army Food Bank, The Friendship Centre, The Harvest Share Food Bank and the Esprit Place”.
Sarah and Tim on daily rounds
Food has grown as a result of the community gardens and so have community partnerships. Canadore College and the Town of Parry Sound have both become partners of the initiative. Local businesses do their part to support the new gardens too. Home Depot and Home Hardware reduce fencing material costs, while top soil, mulch and other nutritious, earthy things are donated by both Weeks and Hall Construction companies. The list of people who want to work together around food is growing so much that a new initiative has blossomed; the idea for a community kitchen. A whole host of new partners want to get on board to create a place to cook together, socialize together and provide healthy food choices for people; this offshoot idea has definitely started to simmer.
I asked Rick Harrington why community gardens, and now community kitchens are such a buzz and he said because they promote the ideal of “food security”, a term I had to look up to really understand. The world health organization defines ‘food security’ as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. Feeding the world may need to rest in the hands of larger organizations but feeding future generations in our own community seems doable, manageable and sustainable.