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Comunity Gardens

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After a two-year test, city council decided in late 2011 to make community gardens a permanent fixture in Guelph.

Community gardens in Guelph prove a challenge

City hall says it’s having trouble finding enough suitable sites for community gardens.
“Finding appropriate city-owned property is a challenge for community garden sites,” says a new city staff report. “There is little available space in the areas of the city with the most interest in community gardens.”
Soil unsuitability and lack of available water infrastructure are also problems for community gardening, the report says.
“City staff will continue to seek appropriate water solutions and investigate soil issues to further increase the number of sites available for this program,” it says.
After a two-year test, city council decided in late 2011 to make community gardens a permanent fixture in Guelph.  There are community gardens in Guelph on public land, including city parks and school board property.
A new garden was added last year in John Galt Park, which is near the River Run Centre.
The city is committed to supporting the community gardens program, the report says. It delivers mulch to the gardens, provides water, and does coordination and communications for the program.
The city’s partnership with the Upper Grand District School Board, private landowners and neighbourhood groups is “a strong model of collaboration that contributes to the well-being of people in Guelph,” says the report. The report will be considered by a city council committee on March 19.
The Guelph Wellington Food Round Table’s community garden working group is seeking community and environmental grants this year to support future new community garden development, the report says.
Private businesses can sponsor gardens by accessing the “How to Get Involved” page at guelph.ca/Community Gardens.
The community garden working group evaluated community gardens last year through ongoing comments during monthly meetings and an annual survey circulated at the end of the growing season.
It found that the program’s benefits exceed the advantage of fresh produce, some of which is donated to local charitable food-security efforts, the report says.
Community garden coordinators report seeing increased “resilience” among participants, “increased community and fellowship,” and an increase in food skills in children who participate with their families or as members of children’s garden programs, the report says.
Community garden program applications and policies can be viewed at guelph.ca/community gardens and also at gwfrt.com/working-groups/community-gardens.

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