Regent Park's community gardens grow new roots

The Regent Park Community Food Centre is a hive of activity when it comes to gardening these days. With the installation of two community gardens, the CFC will spearhead a breadth of food programs on-site and in a nearby park as part of the neighbourhood's revitalization.

In light of the upcoming webinar on placemaking through food, we wanted to share a bit more about how Community Food Centres are working closely with parks and public spaces to cultivate community and improve food security. Liz Curran, the Manager of the Regent Park Community Food Centre, will be moderating the July 3 webinar, and so we are sharing an article originally published in CRC’s May e-newsletter to showcase how the community gardens are developing at their 40 Oaks site and in a nearby public park. To learn more about how Community Food Centres and neighbourhood groups are transforming public spaces around food, register for our upcoming webinar.

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With springtime finally here, we are once again excited about gardening at CRC.

This year we will be expanding on CRC’s long tradition of supporting community gardening in the neighbourhood through our partnership with Community Food Centres Canada and the launch of the Regent Park Community Food Centre at CRC.

We are eagerly watching the construction of our two new community gardens – one right in front of our building here at 40 Oaks, and one down the street in the new park next to the Regent Park Aquatic Centre, called “Regent Park”.

In addition to a community garden, the new “Regent Park” will also include a greenhouse and a wood-fired bake oven – exciting new additions to the neighbourhood that will offer more opportunities to bring people together around fresh, healthy food. We are pleased to be partnering with Green Thumbs Growing Kids and Dixon Hall to provide a range of innovative programs.  Plus our garden at 40 Oaks will bring together tenants, participants, and local families to grow fresh produce that will be shared between those pitching in and our community meal program.

“Sharing and developing skills through gardening is a core part of the Community Food Centre approach. It is one of the many ways that we are working to increase access to fresh, healthy food for community members here in Regent Park,” shared Liz Curran, Community Food Centre Manager.

“As construction continues in the area, we want the vibrant gardening communities that flourished prior to revitalization to remain a strong part of the social fabric in Regent Park,” remarks Emily Martyn, the new Urban Agriculture Coordinator for the Community Food Centre. “We are so excited to be launching our new gardens, which will serve as gathering spaces where gardeners from across the neighbourhood can come together to grow, learn, and share in a way that celebrates the diversity of this growing community.”

CRC is also fortunate to have Ashrafi Ahmed on our team. She provides leadership for our three community allotment gardens, which provide 64 families the opportunity to grow fresh produce throughout the growing season.

“These gardens are a good place to form friendships with other gardeners”, explains Ashrafi. “People come together to share experiences and plant knowledge from different cultures and countries, and to grow their own food, which all helps to build up a stronger community.”

But these allotment gardens will eventually be lost in the next phases of City’s revitalization plan. This makes the development of the two new community gardens and the CRC’s programming around them all the more important as a way to allow continued gardening opportunities for the residents of Regent Park.

By early August, the two new community gardens should be well on their way. If you are in the area, stop by, take a look, and share in the enjoyment of fresh local vegetable being grown in Regent Park.