Dundas community gardens are essential food source during coronavirus pandemic

News Apr 30, 2020 by Craig Campbell Dundas Star News

Provincial designation of community gardens as essential is a move welcomed by Dundas gardeners, at a time when their fresh local vegetables are more important than ever.

Greg Dawson of the Dundas Community Garden Association, which operates nearly 50 garden plots with close to 70 volunteers behind the Westoby Ice Surface on Olympic Drive, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is waking people up to the significance of food security, and value of locally grown produce.

“Some people in Hamilton already know what food security means,” Dawson said. ”Each year we have more applications than gardens and this year is no exception. Every day for the past few weeks we are getting emails asking for a place in the garden.”

The Dundas Community Garden is about 40 years old, with 10 years in its current location. Dawson said member gardeners maintain their own plots to grow their own vegetables, and are encouraged to donate surplus to food banks and other organizations. He estimates the garden feeds 150 people, plus donations.

St. Mark’s Rotary Sunrise Garden began nine years ago as a partnership between the Creighton Road church, Dundas Valley Sunrise Rotary Club and Dundas in Transition. Its 52 beds are maintained by 26 members.

Each gardener gets their own plot, and in turn maintains a food bank plot. Barb Montesanto oversees twice-weekly harvest of those 26 food bank plots during the growing season, and delivers the results to the Dundas Salvation Army Food Bank.

“It is essential,” Montesanto said. “There are families with children who need this food on their table.”

She said the garden allows members to stretch their food budgets, and lets the food bank stretch its budget for other necessities.

Originally declared non-essential by the provincial government earlier in the pandemic, community gardens across Ontario were closed. A grassroots push across the province, including several Dundas residents, convinced the province to change their status April 25.

Now the City of Hamilton public health department and emergency operations centre are reviewing protocols and procedures, much of which was proposed by Ontario community gardens members themselves, in order to soon reopen local community gardens.

Karen Sobierajski of the Dundas Salvation Army food bank was happy to hear steps are underway to safely operate local community gardens for the upcoming season.

“Over the years, we have been the recipients of locally grown produce from the community garden at St. Mark’s. We were concerned when we heard they weren't able to reopen the garden due to COVID-19 that our clients would miss out on the fresh produce that they have been so used to receiving every summer,” Sobierajski said.

She said the donations offset costs of purchasing fruits and vegetables, which can be very expensive. She said there’s nothing like having locally grown produce for families that use the food bank.

“Our clients are very appreciative of anything like that, especially during these difficult times,” Sobierajski said. “If they do not have to enter a grocery store and can receive what they need from us, it makes all the difference in the world to them.”

The provincial order permits allotment and community gardens across Ontario and states they are essential sources of fresh food.

“Local medical officers of health will provide advice, recommendations and instructions that the gardens must meet in order to operate, such as physical distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting commonly used equipment and surfaces,” the order states.

Local community garden members are prepared for a new operating reality. They’re also not concerned about the brief delay preparing gardens for planting.

Nic Schulz of the St. Mark’s Sunrise Community Garden said the timing is fine.

“We’ll be able to do what we normally do,” Schulz said.

Barb Montesanto knows there are important details to work out, to provide hand washing, equipment sanitizing and physical distancing in the gardens. She pointed out everyone who uses the garden touches the gate latch — something that now needs to be addressed because of COVID-19.

“It’s the little things you have to think about,” Montesanto said.

Greg Dawson of the Dundas Community Garden Association said he welcomed the delay to give the group time to prepare.

“Our focus has to be on the safety of our gardeners. The closure has given us time to plan and not simply react,” Dawson said. “It has been amazing to watch garden leaders across Hamilton come together working as a team with the City and others.”

He said April 26 his team would need at least two weeks before allowing gardeners access.

“The bottom line is that we need to do this right. A significant proportion of our gardeners are in the highly susceptible bracket,” Dawson said.

Getting next steps right is important not only to provide an essential food source during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to reinstate a safe outdoor activity, and individual satisfaction, through gardening.

“I think mentally it’s good for a lot of people,” Montesanto said.

Other Dundas community gardens include two CityHousing buildings.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: As community gardens in Dundas are an essential source of fresh local food, we wanted to learn more about their local impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Dundas community gardens are essential food source during coronavirus pandemic

#homegrown

News Apr 30, 2020 by Craig Campbell Dundas Star News

Provincial designation of community gardens as essential is a move welcomed by Dundas gardeners, at a time when their fresh local vegetables are more important than ever.

Greg Dawson of the Dundas Community Garden Association, which operates nearly 50 garden plots with close to 70 volunteers behind the Westoby Ice Surface on Olympic Drive, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is waking people up to the significance of food security, and value of locally grown produce.

“Some people in Hamilton already know what food security means,” Dawson said. ”Each year we have more applications than gardens and this year is no exception. Every day for the past few weeks we are getting emails asking for a place in the garden.”

The Dundas Community Garden is about 40 years old, with 10 years in its current location. Dawson said member gardeners maintain their own plots to grow their own vegetables, and are encouraged to donate surplus to food banks and other organizations. He estimates the garden feeds 150 people, plus donations.

Related Content

St. Mark’s Rotary Sunrise Garden began nine years ago as a partnership between the Creighton Road church, Dundas Valley Sunrise Rotary Club and Dundas in Transition. Its 52 beds are maintained by 26 members.

Each gardener gets their own plot, and in turn maintains a food bank plot. Barb Montesanto oversees twice-weekly harvest of those 26 food bank plots during the growing season, and delivers the results to the Dundas Salvation Army Food Bank.

“It is essential,” Montesanto said. “There are families with children who need this food on their table.”

She said the garden allows members to stretch their food budgets, and lets the food bank stretch its budget for other necessities.

Originally declared non-essential by the provincial government earlier in the pandemic, community gardens across Ontario were closed. A grassroots push across the province, including several Dundas residents, convinced the province to change their status April 25.

Now the City of Hamilton public health department and emergency operations centre are reviewing protocols and procedures, much of which was proposed by Ontario community gardens members themselves, in order to soon reopen local community gardens.

Karen Sobierajski of the Dundas Salvation Army food bank was happy to hear steps are underway to safely operate local community gardens for the upcoming season.

“Over the years, we have been the recipients of locally grown produce from the community garden at St. Mark’s. We were concerned when we heard they weren't able to reopen the garden due to COVID-19 that our clients would miss out on the fresh produce that they have been so used to receiving every summer,” Sobierajski said.

She said the donations offset costs of purchasing fruits and vegetables, which can be very expensive. She said there’s nothing like having locally grown produce for families that use the food bank.

“Our clients are very appreciative of anything like that, especially during these difficult times,” Sobierajski said. “If they do not have to enter a grocery store and can receive what they need from us, it makes all the difference in the world to them.”

The provincial order permits allotment and community gardens across Ontario and states they are essential sources of fresh food.

“Local medical officers of health will provide advice, recommendations and instructions that the gardens must meet in order to operate, such as physical distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting commonly used equipment and surfaces,” the order states.

Local community garden members are prepared for a new operating reality. They’re also not concerned about the brief delay preparing gardens for planting.

Nic Schulz of the St. Mark’s Sunrise Community Garden said the timing is fine.

“We’ll be able to do what we normally do,” Schulz said.

Barb Montesanto knows there are important details to work out, to provide hand washing, equipment sanitizing and physical distancing in the gardens. She pointed out everyone who uses the garden touches the gate latch — something that now needs to be addressed because of COVID-19.

“It’s the little things you have to think about,” Montesanto said.

Greg Dawson of the Dundas Community Garden Association said he welcomed the delay to give the group time to prepare.

“Our focus has to be on the safety of our gardeners. The closure has given us time to plan and not simply react,” Dawson said. “It has been amazing to watch garden leaders across Hamilton come together working as a team with the City and others.”

He said April 26 his team would need at least two weeks before allowing gardeners access.

“The bottom line is that we need to do this right. A significant proportion of our gardeners are in the highly susceptible bracket,” Dawson said.

Getting next steps right is important not only to provide an essential food source during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to reinstate a safe outdoor activity, and individual satisfaction, through gardening.

“I think mentally it’s good for a lot of people,” Montesanto said.

Other Dundas community gardens include two CityHousing buildings.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: As community gardens in Dundas are an essential source of fresh local food, we wanted to learn more about their local impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Dundas community gardens are essential food source during coronavirus pandemic

#homegrown

News Apr 30, 2020 by Craig Campbell Dundas Star News

Provincial designation of community gardens as essential is a move welcomed by Dundas gardeners, at a time when their fresh local vegetables are more important than ever.

Greg Dawson of the Dundas Community Garden Association, which operates nearly 50 garden plots with close to 70 volunteers behind the Westoby Ice Surface on Olympic Drive, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is waking people up to the significance of food security, and value of locally grown produce.

“Some people in Hamilton already know what food security means,” Dawson said. ”Each year we have more applications than gardens and this year is no exception. Every day for the past few weeks we are getting emails asking for a place in the garden.”

The Dundas Community Garden is about 40 years old, with 10 years in its current location. Dawson said member gardeners maintain their own plots to grow their own vegetables, and are encouraged to donate surplus to food banks and other organizations. He estimates the garden feeds 150 people, plus donations.

Related Content

St. Mark’s Rotary Sunrise Garden began nine years ago as a partnership between the Creighton Road church, Dundas Valley Sunrise Rotary Club and Dundas in Transition. Its 52 beds are maintained by 26 members.

Each gardener gets their own plot, and in turn maintains a food bank plot. Barb Montesanto oversees twice-weekly harvest of those 26 food bank plots during the growing season, and delivers the results to the Dundas Salvation Army Food Bank.

“It is essential,” Montesanto said. “There are families with children who need this food on their table.”

She said the garden allows members to stretch their food budgets, and lets the food bank stretch its budget for other necessities.

Originally declared non-essential by the provincial government earlier in the pandemic, community gardens across Ontario were closed. A grassroots push across the province, including several Dundas residents, convinced the province to change their status April 25.

Now the City of Hamilton public health department and emergency operations centre are reviewing protocols and procedures, much of which was proposed by Ontario community gardens members themselves, in order to soon reopen local community gardens.

Karen Sobierajski of the Dundas Salvation Army food bank was happy to hear steps are underway to safely operate local community gardens for the upcoming season.

“Over the years, we have been the recipients of locally grown produce from the community garden at St. Mark’s. We were concerned when we heard they weren't able to reopen the garden due to COVID-19 that our clients would miss out on the fresh produce that they have been so used to receiving every summer,” Sobierajski said.

She said the donations offset costs of purchasing fruits and vegetables, which can be very expensive. She said there’s nothing like having locally grown produce for families that use the food bank.

“Our clients are very appreciative of anything like that, especially during these difficult times,” Sobierajski said. “If they do not have to enter a grocery store and can receive what they need from us, it makes all the difference in the world to them.”

The provincial order permits allotment and community gardens across Ontario and states they are essential sources of fresh food.

“Local medical officers of health will provide advice, recommendations and instructions that the gardens must meet in order to operate, such as physical distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting commonly used equipment and surfaces,” the order states.

Local community garden members are prepared for a new operating reality. They’re also not concerned about the brief delay preparing gardens for planting.

Nic Schulz of the St. Mark’s Sunrise Community Garden said the timing is fine.

“We’ll be able to do what we normally do,” Schulz said.

Barb Montesanto knows there are important details to work out, to provide hand washing, equipment sanitizing and physical distancing in the gardens. She pointed out everyone who uses the garden touches the gate latch — something that now needs to be addressed because of COVID-19.

“It’s the little things you have to think about,” Montesanto said.

Greg Dawson of the Dundas Community Garden Association said he welcomed the delay to give the group time to prepare.

“Our focus has to be on the safety of our gardeners. The closure has given us time to plan and not simply react,” Dawson said. “It has been amazing to watch garden leaders across Hamilton come together working as a team with the City and others.”

He said April 26 his team would need at least two weeks before allowing gardeners access.

“The bottom line is that we need to do this right. A significant proportion of our gardeners are in the highly susceptible bracket,” Dawson said.

Getting next steps right is important not only to provide an essential food source during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to reinstate a safe outdoor activity, and individual satisfaction, through gardening.

“I think mentally it’s good for a lot of people,” Montesanto said.

Other Dundas community gardens include two CityHousing buildings.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: As community gardens in Dundas are an essential source of fresh local food, we wanted to learn more about their local impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.