First breaking ground in May 2009, the Parkview Neighbourhood Garden in uptown Toronto has come a long way in just five years’ time. It’s become the pride of its community and a meeting place for neighbors who enjoy gardening. A volunteer-run organic market garden, the Parkview team gardens and makes decisions as a group. They then sell their organic produce to the community, donate a portion to food charities, and use the remainder to put back into the garden by purchasing new seeds and supplies.
I was lucky enough to chat with Lynne Kozina, head of the Parkview Neighbourhood Garden steering committee about the upcoming spring/summer gardening season!
How did you find the Parkview Neighbourhood Garden?
I found it in the fall of 2009 on a walk through the neighbourhood. A couple of volunteers happened to be in the garden, so I left my name and email to contact me in the spring. My first involvement was to donate raspberry plants from my mother’s garden. I helped in the 2010 season with planting, weeding, watering, staking vegetables and was asked to chair the group the next year (I had a lot of ideas and talked too much I guess). I’ve been the chairperson ever since.
It’s amazing to see organic veggies growing locally in a high density North York neighbourhood. We have line ups on sales days as our neighbours really like buying fresh, locally grown organic produce at reasonable prices.
How many volunteers work and run the garden?
We have a volunteer steering committee of 6-7 people who plan and make decisions affecting the garden. We have about two dozen volunteers who come regularly and at least a couple of dozen more who come periodically to work in the garden weeding, planting, pruning, staking and watering. We also have some community events throughout the year that are open to anyone who is interest, like our end of year harvest potluck, strawberry social, and educational sessions.
How do members of the community get involved with the garden?
To get involved, just show up for a work or sales group! We ask people to give us their name, phone and email address so we have a way of staying in touch. We have an opening event in March with a guest speaker and potluck lunch to start our yearly volunteer recruitment. We use email, our website and Facebook and the onsite sign board to advertise. Councillor Filion mentions us in his newsletters and we are part of a network of community gardens across the city so we link with each other online and spread the word electronically and by word of mouth. We have gotten a lot of regular volunteers from the neighbourhood just by talking to people who walk by and ask us what we are doing!
Tell us about your garden expansion!
Our steering committee worked with the city planners and Councillor Filion in 2013 to plan for an expansion that included expropriating an adjoining residential property. We then met with city appointed landscape architects and parks department staff to plan the garden. The city will complete the planned hardscape and garden beds shortly and we have already met as a committee to develop a planting plan that includes the expansion area.
On June 21, we had an official opening ceremony with Councillor Filion, and invited guests on the site including a ribbon cutting, cake and refreshments to celebrate this year’s garden expansion project. This event offered an opportunity to celebrate not just the expansion but the entire community garden concept and the amazing efforts of so many people that has made Parkview Neighbourhood Garden a success and one of the longest running community gardens in the city.
[Editor’s Note: I serve on the Parkview Neighbourhood Garden Steering Committee and maintain the garden’s website and social media presence.]