During this past growing season of 2020, the neighbours of Burton Ave had hoped to expand our Butterflyway Garden, established 2019. However, due to reduced city operation staff and crew working on site, they were not able to expand our garden footprint as originally planned. Nevertheless, together with my household and the financial support of the Neighbourhood Small Grant, we organized a watering schedule for the Butterflyway Garden, added plant labels and edging to reduce soil erosion, planted new native and pollinator-friendly plants that were generously donated from the David Suzuki Foundation, distributed three issues of a neighbourhood newsletter, put together prize packages and mini-care packages for our neighbours, and purchased a set of garden hedgers for yearly garden maintenance.
The neighbourhood newsletter, titled The Burton Gazette, included photo submissions from neighbours, recipes, garden trivia, kids activities and colour contest, tips to maintain healthy physical and mental wellness, and advertisements of neighbours who could offer practical services and skills during the pandemic (ie. providing hair cuts and sewing custom fabric face masks). It was my first time putting together a newsletter.
The first issue, electronically distributed by email in June to the contacts on our Burton Ave directory, included a sign up for our neighbours to water the garden. The response was great and there was a different household signed up to water the garden one day per week for the months of June through September. Each household was given its own pair of gardening gloves and watering can. The first issue also included multiple pages of children’s activities such as a scavenger hunt and colouring pages for prizes. Almost every child in our neighbourhood electronically submitted a scanned colouring page and received a garden-themed book and toy prize package. The books were ordered through Scholastic and included board books for the young toddlers and science non-fiction garden facts for the elementary grade children. The completed colouring pages were featured in the second issue, distributed in July. The last issue, distributed in August, was professionally printed by a neighbour who generously offered free printing services! The last issue was delivered to all 18 households on Burton Ave and included a mini-care package of stickers, Tazo Calm and Tazo Zen tea bags.
Although this year did not unfold as originally planned for us, we were able to adapt, connect with one another through the garden and the newsletter, share our skills and talents, and stay safe.