I grew up with six siblings in rural Ontario and we all put in serious time tending two huge vegetable gardens. I wasn’t always smiling then but memories of eating yellow beans, warm from the sun (when I should have been working), are partly what got me renting a garden plot this year.
My parents are both gone now but I can imagine them chuckling together over my $80 rental of dirt. City dirt. But it’s turning out to be good dirt and I’ve already got a bumper crop of radishes that would have cost me $10. By the end of the season when my pumpkins are ready, I’m certain I’ll have harvested more than $80 worth of food.
My 4m by 5m plot is at the Churchill Park Aviary, a volunteer-run home for dozens of exotic birds, in Hamilton’s west end. Sadly, I don’t get there often enough to keep the weeds down. I try not to drool over the perfectly kept plots and take some solace in others’ weedy plots. And yes, that’s a bit sick.
The Aviary is a beautiful spot with a wide variety of birds and a lovely herb garden in progress. All manner of people garden here and it’s been quite enjoyable to chat and compare crops. Which means Hamilton’s community gardens are good for at least two things – safely grown food and cultivating community spirit.