Gardners, scholars say are the first sign of commitment to a community

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The plan for Mavrinac Park that is before council Tuesday favors pickleball over pickles.  Although I’m glad common sense prevailed and Clr. Thom’s push to incorporate a ball diamond to service Aurora King baseball was shitcanned what is now proposed only strengthens a NIMBY approach to community gardens here in Aurora.

In a Banner piece ran yesterday we learn the demand for community gardens has never been greater. Even after expanding the Newmarket location by 22 plots this year there is still a two-year waiting list to get a plot in the Newmarket and Aurora community gardens.

In exploring how community gardens garner vocal opposition it cites Aurora:

Aurora has tried to implement community gardens in some parks over the past few years only to back down when faced with resistance.

Aurora council, for example, voted against a neighbourhood garden at McMahon Park last year. While 45 residents supported the establishment of a neighbourhood garden, 41 voted against it in a public survey.

4 Years ago the Banner ran a piece highlighting how a grassroots group was going to establish 2,015 new garden plots in York Region by the year 2015.

I’m unable to find any follow-up on this initiative to learn if they reached their goal, or where the breakdown of these new plots are in the Region, I was able to find an inventory of urban agricultural projects and policies compiled in 2105 by the York Region Food Charter titled Growing Good food in York Region.

Page 6 lists community gardens on page 6 broken down into 2 categories: Communal Gardens vs. Allotment.

Both gardens in Aurora are Allotment style.  The Aurora Community Garden on industrial parkway has  56 plots while the Windfall Ecology Centre’s Community Garden at Shepard’s Bush has 18 plots.

That’s 74 plots for a town with a population approaching 60,000.

Page 9 of this report highlight policies in the York Region Offical Plan that support and integrate local agriculture in community areas.  It also highlights how the City of Markham approved their Community and Allotment Garden Manual back in 201 and the City of Vaughan approved their Community Garden policy in 2013.

Even with the Markham Community Gardens being sold the city boasts an impressive mix of 10 locations supporting the food security priority of the Greenprint – Markham’s Community Sustainability Plan.

Just yesterday 45 community gardens throughout Windsor/Essex County Community Garden Collective was profiled in the Windsor Star.

Aa portion of the fresh fruits and vegetables from the University of Windsor campus garden is donated to local food banks as well as a community kitchen established this year by students to provide their peers with nutritious food during the school year.

Steve Green, a coordinator for the Windsor Essex County Community Garden Network explains the community aspect like this:

“So while the community garden exists as a place where people come together and learn how to grow some food … we also look at it as a way to improve the networking of the community among itself.  We start a community garden with the idea of improving the neighbourhood in which it’s embedded.”

York Region New Community Guidelines endorses potential locations that are appropriate and feasible for community gardens as outlined on page 5 of the same report:

where.JPGHow exactly is the Mavernac Park not a suitable under-utilized park or open space for a community garden, yet a perfect match for Pickleball?

Even with Macerbnac Park removed from the equation, and other parks being pulled off the table due to public backlash why has the town made zero headway in identifying appropriate and feasible sites for community gardens?  It’s not like there isn’t a wealth of underutilized land the town already has.  Think hydro corridor, community centres, townhall and even the seniors centre.

The town is looking for a use for that Petch Shit-Shack, why not turn it into a garden shed/greenhouse with some of the immediate surrounding grounds turned into plots that can be accessed via the Seniors Centre?

When taking a break from honing their mad pickleball skills our local politicians could kick start such a new community garden by dropping by for their obligatory ribbon-cuting photo by donating all their excess election sign stands.

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