Braving Thursday’s sweltering heat, more than 60 volunteers used sledge hammers, nails and dirt to build a community garden in a single day in an unlikely place near five large apartment towers at Lees Avenue.
“We wanted to provide access to a community garden for the apartments,” said 73-year-old volunteer Keith Shackleton, “because they have no access to land and most of the community gardens in Ottawa have year-long waiting lists.”
Taryn Hudgins, who lives in one of the nearby apartment towers at 190 Lees, said she came out to help despite the heat because she’s excited about growing her own food.
“I have a plot at another garden nearby, but there’s always a waiting list,” she said. “This one is closer and I like the raised beds because you don’t have to bend over.”
Hudgins said her apartment doesn’t have a balcony, making it nearly impossible to grow vegetables from her home. “Having the garden allows me to get out and I can eat what I grow,” she said, adding that right now she’s raising green tomatoes to make relish and beats for pickling.
For $20, residents will get access to the 5,000 square-foot garden and one of its eight foot by twelve foot plots.
The community couldn’t have started the project on their own, Shackleton said. Canadian Tire and gardening tool maker Fiskars provided all the tools, dirt, trees and small plants planted around the property.
“The pressure is on now to get this done in a day since the mayor is showing up to do a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m, ” said Paul Tonnesen, President of Fiskars Brands.
“We want this to be a catalyst for other communities in the city to see this and say ‘let do something similar’”, Tonnesen added.