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A lovely early Spring this year brought members of our co op housing together to share garden duties and discuss the possibility of starting a community veggie garden for the co op. We brought the discussion to the table at a monthly grounds committee meeting and were told that there was no money in the budget for it so would have to be financed by members and that previous attempts to build a community garden by past residents had been discouraged due to concerns of community gardens attracting pests, namely rats.
We applied for Neighborhood Small Grants with the hopes that this would bring neighbors together to share in the excitement of growing food together and dispel myths about community gardening. We were very pleased to receive the grant to begin the project and began researching what we needed to get this pilot project started on the right foot so the idea could grow to include the many interested neighbors who love to garden and wanted to grow food also.
The idea was presented at another grounds meeting as everything must go through the committee in charge of the common areas and the Board of Directors at our co op. The idea was reviewed and mostly approved with concerns for pests and theft and location of gardens. In response to the concerns fencing was drawn up and locks were purchased and consensus was achieved that this was to be a pilot project to see what kind of issues might come up and how we can deter possible problems so it could be a win-win situation for everyone at our co op.
We organized a few work parties, supply runs, and with the help of our friendly neighbors our lovely little garden was turning heads and getting our neighbors talking to each other about this wonderful idea of community gardens in our co op. There was no sign of rodents or pests of any sort, save a few aphids which were kindly sprayed down with a mild vinegar solution from one of our knowledgeable neighbours. The pilot project was a success and before the end of the summer the entire co op was invited to walk around the common areas giving their input about where the future garden plots were to go.
We watched our garden grow lots of healthy abundant greens, tomatoes, peppers, basil, zuchini and even tried a watermelon, which did not do well at all. We will be growing winter crops like garlic and some kale now. All in all this project was an educational process in collective gardening and how to live in community. The challenges that presented themselves were and are opportunities to break down barriers that divide people and discover how we can work together in each others best interests, for food security and to create a better world, one neighborhood at a time.