Friday, 19 July 2013

Fruit Tree Planting at Burlington Central Park Community Garden

One of the goals of our Community Orchard Project is to establish one or more community orchards within Halton as a legacy food source. Last year we were able to create the Oakville Community Orchard at Kingsford Park and another orchard at the Freedom Centre. This year we worked together with the Burlington Central Park Community Garden, an initiative of BurlingtonGreen's and the City of Burlington to plant five fruit trees at the entrance to the garden.

The multi variety pear tree, 5 in 1 dwarf apple tree, Granny Smith apple tree, Moorpark Apricot tree, and Puget Gold Apricot tree will be providing shade, and fruit for the community garden for many years. 

ClearView Community Garden

Over the past two years we have been active partners in the ClearView Community Garden located at ClearView Church on Sheridan Garden Drive in Oakville. This garden unfortunately lost it's garden coordinator, and the bulk of it's gardeners over the winter so we have been working hard to get it up and running again. 

We began the season with a garden clean up (a bit late in the season; the weeds were already huge!), and thanks to the hard work of volunteers we able to get the garden (mostly) ready to plant. Since then they have been working hard to battle the weeds, and the rabbits, and now the garden is producing zucchini and beans. We are also expecting a bumper crop of tomatoes (thank you Oakvillegreen Community Garden for donating the tomato plants!). 

Since the beginning of the season many more volunteers have joined the garden, including some very hardworking high school students, and plans for how to improve the garden for next year have already begun. Great work everyone! It's wonderful to see people from all over Oakville working so hard together to grow food. 

Backyard Community Gardens

One of the most exciting projects that we have been involved with this spring has been the creation of two backyard community gardens. We know that there are many backyards in Halton just waiting to  be gardened, and at the same time there are many gardeners without a yard to garden, but until this year we have been unable to link the two up. 

Early in the spring we were contacted by a local homeowner with a beautiful backyard garden that he was unable to utilize. After some quick emails to our contacts a great group of twelve volunteers from the Halton Newcomers Environmental Group came forward and have been busy caring for their Share Land Share Life Community Garden. Bethlehem Sahlu is the program coordinator for the garden. She can be reached at if you would like to learn more about their garden.

Not long after the Share Land Share Life Community Garden was started some volunteers from our program offered to work together to care for the garden in the back of a music studio in Kerr Village. The garden was initially overgrown with beautiful violets. Although it was initially sad to see the violets go they have been slowly replaced with lots of great veggies. Unfortunately a local squirrel has also discovered the garden and is currently keeping the gardeners busy trying to keep him from digging up all their hard work!

A portion of the food from each of these gardens will go to local food banks, with the rest being shared among the gardeners and homeowners.

If you know of a backyard in need of gardeners please contact us We have a huge database of people eager to participate in community gardening. 

Spring Gardening Presentations

This spring we were pleased to be able to offer a series of gardening presentations featuring Sean James, President of Fern Ridge Landscaping and Eco-Consulting. Sean is a wealth of gardening and landscaping knowledge, and his dedication to eco-friendly techniques aligns perfectly with our programs. His presentations are always jammed full of useful and interesting information, entertaining stories and tips that you can easily implement in your own gardens.

Sean's presentations to the gardeners at Salvation Garden, the Acton Community Garden, the Oakville Town Hall Atrium and at the Burlington Central Park Community Garden were based on the principles of permaculture and were extremely informative. Here is a quick overview of some of the points that I found interesting:

  • Pollinators are very important  - provide Mason Bees with hollow stems stuck in the fence, or bee houses
  • Leave your garden for the winter; do the “fall” cleanup in the spring to return nutrients to the soil
  • When mulching leave some bare soil & leave a pile of brush in the corner for insects
  • Mix textures when planting ie kale with fennel
  • Mix veggies with perennials
  • Plant Lupines to attract aphids – which attracts ladybugs to eat the aphid pests on other plants
  • Plant native plants- especially grasses (switch grass & blue stem). They are dynamic accumulators. Mulch them in the spring.
  • Potting mix should contain microryhza – Promix from TSC or Taylor is a good choice
  • Sparkleberry & high bush cranberry are good for attracting birds
  • Squash,peppers & eggplants like to be warm; use mounds and black plastic around the base of the plants
  • Wikipedia has a great list of companion plants (Marigolds, nasturtiums)
  • Growbark – a local company who manufactures composted pine mulch
  • Try putting Sedum in your smoothies
  • You can eat Hostas
  • Use drip irrigation to water your gardens (in the morning)
  • Mulch pathways with straw rather than wood mulch
  • Sneerboer makes excellent hand forged garden tools
  • Use RTF Watersaver grass seed
  • Hands in the soil releases serotonin – Picking food releases dopamine
  • Plant asparagus – it is a beautiful plant
Thanks again Sean for the great presentations. I know that they inspired many of us to try new things in our gardens this season. 

Spring Orchard Pruning

We were fortunate to be offered assistance pruning some of the trees at Ciderhill Farms this spring by some very hard working volunteers from Eaton Electric in Milton. Ciderhill Farms will be donating their apples to our Halton Fruit Tree Project. We worked hard and were able to prune 30 apple trees. Now if we could only get the other 120 pruned...

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Spring Update

Wow! Have we been busy so far this year. In order to catch up on all our events I am going to do a short summary of all our spring activities....

Halton EcoFest -  We had a great time at EcoFest this spring. It was a wonderful opportunity to make some new acquaintances and learn about all the exciting environmental initiatives in Halton. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hi!

Salvation Garden - Our first project this year (on a cold snowy morning!) was to assist a group of wonderful volunteers from The Meeting House build a community garden at the Salvation Army Lighthouse Shelter in Oakville. This garden is used to help feed the residents at the shelter, and also gives the residents an opportunity to help grow their own food. We will be posting updated photos of the garden on our website soon...

Volunteer Appreciation Night - We would not be able to operate without all of our volunteers, so we decided to host an evening event to thank everyone for all their hard work and dedication. It was an enjoyable evening spent looking back at our accomplishments over the past two years, and exploring the following interesting food initiatives from other communities: