Toronto, Ontario Community Gardens Program
Source File: http://www.toronto.ca/parks/programs/community.htm
The Community Gardens Program is cultivating a dynamic community gardening movement across the City. Working in partnership with a wide variety of community groups, the program draws on the collective heritage of gifts from Toronto's distinct cultures. Community gardens benefit everyone by creating safe and healthy recreational activity within our parks system, and on other city-owned lands.
Benefits of Community Gardens
Gardening is the second most popular form of leisure activity in Canada, attracting 72% of Canadian adults according to a report by "Go For Green: The Active Living Environment Program." In recent years it has been gaining rapidly in popularity. Public parks and other city-owned lands provide opportunities for creating and demonstrating the benefits of gardening. In doing so, they encourage individuals to be part of a community that shares the efforts and benefits of gardening.
Community gardens are safe, beautiful outdoor spaces on public or private lands, where neighbors meet to grow and care for vegetables, flowers and native plant species. The gardeners take initiative and responsibility for organizing, maintaining and managing the garden area. This participation builds skills and creates positive community development that is widely accessible to a diverse range of people. Partnerships between the City, other levels of government, and community organizations have already created additional community benefits, through fostering youth employment, volunteer activity, and the restoration of natural areas.
Community gardens have been shown to revitalize areas from fearful places where neglect of the park fostered vandalism and illegal activities into places for community programs and celebration. This transformation takes place when community gardens engage sustained community involvement by youth, families, seniors, intergenerational, ethnic and multicultural groups. There are measurable outcomes that document the success of this collaborative effort. At a number of park sites, for example, vandalism, documented crime, graffiti and negative park use have declined considerably. Park programs and events have increased. Community groups have become increasingly influential as advocates for positive park use. Outdoor recreation opportunities, such as gardening, are once again accessible to city residents at these parks.
OBJECTIVES OF THE COMMUNITY GARDENS PROGRAM
1. To identify and develop potential community garden sites throughout the City of Toronto.
2. To develop partnerships between Parks and Recreation and community residents, seniors, faith groups, cooperative housing, hospitals, schools, daycare centres, and other community groups, for the establishment of community gardens.
3. To nurture a diverse group of users and to develop a self-sustaining community gardens volunteer base.
4. To provide horticultural and maintenance training to the various community groups and partners, and to promote quality care of community gardens.
5. To provide technical assistance for the groups who participate in the stewardship of our parks and other city-owned lands.