Gardens are more than just plants in the ground....These Canadians are planting seeds that will grow for generations, and nourish us in ways that will amaze and inspire you.
Katharina Steffenhofer -- Mel Johnson School Gardening Project
The Mel Johnson School Gardening Project is an innovative school gardening project. For the past 4 years the teacher, Eleanor Woitowicz, has been helping set up vegetable gardens right at the students’ homes in the community of Wabowden, Manitoba, 650 km north of Winnipeg. Wabowden is home to approximately 600 residents, the majority of whom are of First Nations and Métis heritage. Eleanor teaches the students how to grow their own pesticide-free vegetables using only liquid seaweed fertilizer and Turkey Trot, a turkey manure fertilizer.
I am producing/directing a documentary film about the school gardening project that speaks to the universal topic of Community Food Security and the need for Local Sustainable Food Production. The hope is that this educational documentary will galvanize students, educators and communities alike to learn more about returning to what was once a way of life: local, sustainable production of healthy foods.
A display of the fall harvest kids’ locally & sustainably grown vegetables will take place at the school around September 14.
Simon LePage - Les Urbainculteurs
Quebec City, Quebec
garden is located in downtown Quebec City, on the rooftop of La maison
de Lauberivière, a non-profit organization helping people in need. They
offer them food, lodging and help to find work and get autonomous. Les
Urbainculteurs (or the Urban Farmers), our non-profit organization,
contacted them a few months ago to see if they could be the host of the
largest rooftop garden of the province of Quebec. They accepted, and as
a result we expect to produce two tons of organic fruits, herbs and
vegetables this summer. One ton will be sold to a market of local
producers two kilometers away to finance the project. The other ton
will be given to Lauberivière to supply the kitchen in fresh
vegetables. Lots of volunteers came to give us a hand to put it into
On the photo you can see lots of white boxes, it is a new
container technology called Biotop, designed especially for
high-productivity gardening in dense urban areas. It can convert
rooftops, parking lots or even contaminated land into active urban
gardening spaces. They can be self-irrigated with a water-saving
automatic system. We expect to make many others projects like this one
in the future, people loves it!
Eliza Potter - Community Garden Coordinator at Fort Calgary
Community Garden at the historic site of Fort Calgary in Calgary,
Alberta is a wonderful example of a pesticide free garden in an urban
environment. Located just east of downtown Calgary, we practice
ecological gardening techniques to grow food that we donate to charity.
Our methods include; composting all garden waste and the vegetable
waste from the two commercial kitchens on site, mulching with straw to
reduce water usage, using “slow release” fertilizers like kelp, rock
dust, and alfalfa meal, growing heirloom seeds, and planting plants
that attract pollinators. We are also experimenting with companion
planting, seed collection, and annual crop rotation. We do not use
synthetics fertilizers or any herbicides, pesticides or fungicides in
the garden. The vegetable garden has been growing and donating
nutritious food to communities in the immediate area for the past 9
years (in 2008 we donated 2,215 lbs!). The community garden at Fort
Calgary is lovingly maintained by volunteers, by people with barriers
to employment and by people trying to reintegrate themselves back into
the workforce. In addition the garden acts as a demonstration for the
public to see the amazing array of food plants that can be grown in our
high altitude, short season environment here in Calgary.
Margot Johnston -- Haultain Common
a narrow boulevard in front of our house in Victoria, we’ve transformed
grass into a productive food garden for the whole community.
winter we invited our neighbours to help us sheet-mulch the boulevard
(sheet-mulching is a no-dig permaculture technique that suppresses
grass and builds soil). By spring, the cardboard, grass-clippings,
coffee grounds, food scraps and leaves we’d layered on the ground had
learned how to plant, how to recognize different plants and when and
how to harvest. We met our neighbours and our neighbours’ neighbours.
The garden attracted so much media attention that soon people came from
all over Victoria to ask questions. We had thousands of conversations
about growing food, reclaiming the “Common”, food security, locovorism,
permaculture, and co-creating community. Oh, and the neighbourhood
shared 300 pounds of organic vegetables!
year, the Haultain Common is in full bloom again, and new boulevard
vegetable gardens have sprung up all over the neighbourhood!
Splash Child Care -- Winnipeg, Manitoba
We have had the garden for several years. Our children tend the garden throughout the spring and summer as part of curriculum that meets with our mission and values. We weave literacy and numeracy through our program and the children keep garden journals and a scrap book. We compost in the garden and in the daycare with our vermicompost. Each lunch tables has three buckets: one for compost, one for recycling and onefor garbage. Last year our theme was “It’s not easy being green” and we worked towards a greener centre and went plastic bag free (quite an accomplishment for child care!). We grew so much food one year that we donated 50 pounds of produce to Winnipeg Harvest.
We use fish emulsion for fertilizer. We find that if the garden is kept healthy you can ward off the insects. It also helps to have children who make it their mission to find them!
Jason Traversy -- " Underbridge Gardens"
Before there was nothing! Just pulverized cement, garbage, and a few lost souls...
door is a daycare and a swimming pool with many children coming and
going. 30,000 pounds of used coffee and filters later; “Underbridge
Gardens” was born.
Retired teachers, nurses, and homeless work
together to keep this area clean and an inspiration for the next
generation. Everything is donated, and the plants are thriving on all
that java juice!!!
Even the bricks were donated instead of going into the landfill.
Amazing what an idea can become.
Bernadette Keenan -- Surrey, British Columbia
The story of this pesticide free garden began years ago with a plan for a Freeway that runs through South Fraser Surrey and Delta neighborhoods. Site preparation meant demolished homes with mountains of preload sand, so we fight the Freeway celebrating life with guerilla gardens since soil here is rich, black earth full of worms and nutrients made for growing not paving.
At dawn, dusk or after dark, we guerilla garden in quiet hidden corners along the freeway route tending to plants grown from seeds or transplanted seedlings donated by gardeners from both sides of the Fraser. Flowers, vegetables, herbs, and even trees replacing some of the ones cut down, grow pesticide free in our guerilla garden.
Water either comes from ditches that run beside the preload compressing the peat altering the course of underwater streams or we carry water to the plants in buckets or containers in backpacks and bags two or three times a week. It's worth the effort, since our guerilla gardens are about plants not pavement, homes not highways and food not freeways. Oh and along the way we've harvested lettuce, picked salad greens, enjoyed fragrant scented sweet peas and laughed at a six inch sunflower all grown pesticide free.
As a former toxicologist (Pharmacy background) I volunteer my time teaching about the chemistry of lawn chemicals, and provide information so they can make informed choices. We plant food amongst our flowers and are setting up community gardens and school naturalization projects.
I was diagnosed with MS in 1980 while in third year Pharmacy. Part of what has kept me healthy is what I eat, and a lot of what I eat is from my garden. We buy bikes from auctions, and re-build them just to get people riding (thus the unique plant stakes). I volunteer teach native landscapes, the resulting body burden from pesticides, and the importance of not using chemicals. Our yard is watered through rain barrels, everything is composted, and of course, we’re chemical free.
What’s kept me alive despite my illness? Keeping my neurons firing - my brain is active from perpetual grad school, I cycle at least an hour a day, and knowing that we aren’t adding a significant footprint to an already burdened world.
Kristen Hahn -- Upper Case Books
New Hamburg, Ontario
I own a little independent bookstore in New Hamburg, Ontario, and this year, spurred on by the horrifying realization that I don't know how to do ANYTHING, I began a series of workshops on Community Self-Sufficiency.
April: "Sod Off!" Turn that boring, chemical-hungry front yard into a beautiful, vegetable-producing, eco-friendly garden.
May: "Fun in Bed" A workshop on how to build high-yield, raised-bed vegetable gardens.
July: "Talking Dirty" The science of organic soil. Better for the environment, more nutritious for you!
August: "Easy Rider" Bicycle maintenance & repair
September: "Show Me Your Can!" Preserving the harvest.
Here’s a photo of my former parking lot, which shows the results of having "Fun in Bed". Virtually everyone who comes into the store must endure my enthusiastic showing-off, but they'll often leave with an armfull of lettuce. Once my tomatoes are ready, I'm inviting the class back for a feast. Forget the hundred-mile-diet! I'm trying hundred-foot!
Lauren Loconte -- Mississauga, Ontario
My parents, Frank and Carmela Loconte have been living in Mississauga for 30 years. During this time, they slowly removed all the grass on their large property, replacing it with native plants, groundcover, mulch, rock features, trees (including fruit trees), and tall grasses. The garden is beautifully maintained without the use of any chemicals or pesticides.
Before yard waste pick-up was introduced by the City, my parents had 12 compost bins in their yard. To curb their water consumption, they collected water with large rain barrels.
Now the garden on their boulevard is being threatened by the city who wants them to replace their front garden with grass, claiming that the plants pose visibility issues for motorists. Help to protect my parents' natural garden at, www.savethegarden.weebly.com.
Colin Wade -- Victoria, BC
have created an organic veggie garden this year and planted many
different types of edible treats. I have been documenting it as I go so
I can share it with as many people as I can. I have been uploading
images to @ecoforlife on Twitter and the Eco Landscape Design facebook
page. I come from a long line of Victorian Kitchen Gardeners and have
an unending passion for getting my hands in the soil. I use worm
and biological 'fertilizers' to infuse the soil with micro-organisms
which in turn make all the nutrients available to the plants. I am an ISA certified arborist and am launching a new campaign with my company called Garden Education (.com) in order to
the knowledge across the nation. I am also getting ready to incorporate
a video blog into the site revolving around gardening without
chemicals. I am glad chemicals are banned in Ontario now and look
forward to watching the gnomes return!
Judith McIntyre -- St. John’s, Newfoundland
is our first year gardening at the Brother McShefferty community garden
in St. John's Newfoundland. It truly is a community garden with
everyone willing to share their knowledge and give welcome advice. The
first thing we learned was where to get the 'brown gold' that makes the
gardens grow so well. It is manure from the Rainbow Riders stable (a
riding school for the mentally and physically challenged children)
which is about 500m down the road from the garden. For a nominal
donation they are more than happy for you to take the waste from their
stables and use it in your garden... and boy does it ever produce great
veggies! Only six weeks after planting we have already harvested 6 lbs
of Swiss chard, 6 lbs broccoli, 4 lbs spinach and three large bags of
curly kale. Lots for our family and also to share with friends.
gardening experience in the community garden is truly rewarding and we
are enjoying not just the organic produce but the camaraderie of
working with like minded people. Yeah gardening!