Find a connection to the earth within the concrete jungle.

Spring and summer are the perfect seasons to connect with nature and spend time getting your hands dirty with gardening. Clear skies mean it’s time to put on those gardening gloves, dig holes and plant your favourite herbs and flowers.

If you don’t have space at your home or you’re down to try gardening with your neighbours, you can join a community garden near your place!

There are many community gardens that already exist in the GTA – the reality is that you can even start your own if you follow the right procedures.

If you’re up for the challenge of laying the foundations (literally) of the next blooming spot in town, check out how to join or start a community garden in the GTA. You might even find one right next to your home!

How to join a community garden

Picture of people taking care of a garden.
Photo by Kenny Eliason via Unsplash

Let’s say you don’t want the hassle of starting your own new and fresh garden from scratch. So, joining an existing community garden is your go-to option.

First things first, you have to find a community garden that catches your eye. Luckily, you don’t have to go on a wild goose chase around your neighbourhood. Just hop onto the City of Toronto website, where you can find the list of community gardens and where they’re located across the city.

Once you’ve found your desired spot, it’s time to dive into the process of joining. I know dealing with government stuff can sometimes feel like navigating a maze, but joining a community garden is straightforward and sweat-free. You simply have to contact the supervisor of the community gardens program of the City of Toronto, Solomon Boyé, and share your interest in joining a community garden. Keep in mind, though, that some gardens might have a waiting list.

And here’s the cherry on top: joining a community garden won’t cost you a dime. No pesky application fees here.

How to start a community garden

Picture of a man digging roles in a garden.
Photo by Jed Owen via Unsplash

If you’re keen on starting a community garden in your neighbourhood, there are a few steps to follow.

First off, you’ll need to identify a site for your garden. The ideal location should get at least six hours of sunlight a day, be close to water facilities but shouldn’t interfere with any underground pipes or lines and be easily accessible for everyone in the community. You also have to make sure it won’t disrupt other park activities like dog walking, sports, permits, etc.

Is the site looking good? Now, gather community members to join you. The City of Toronto asks for at least five members who are willing to keep up with the garden’s responsibilities. You’ll need a garden coordinator, who will oversee the project and work with the city to get support.

Next, the representatives have to submit a proposal to Solomon Boyé. This proposal should include details about the group members, their experience doing collaborative projects, plans for the garden (purpose, organization and decision-making structure) and the time and tasks each member will commit to.

The proposal also has to include information about the site itself, such as its size, history, access to water, sunlight and delivery trucks and site plans. You’ll also need to outline the maintenance schedule, the list of any tools and materials you’ll need and the impact the garden will have on the neighbourhood.

If you get the green light, your group is eligible to receive technical assistance from the Community Gardens Program.

Now that you know that a bunch of tools are necessary, you may be thinking how much money is coming out of your pocket for this. While there’s no cost for acquiring the site, you need a budget for soil tests, tools, compost, compost bins, fencing and plant material. Fortunately, there are many organizations that provide funding for community gardens.

Send an email to the Toronto Community Gardening Network and they can point you in the right direction for finding funders for your garden.

Donate to a community garden

Picture of a man with a hat that writes "love your neighbour."
Photo by Nina Strehl via Unsplash

If you’re looking to go above and beyond by supporting not just one, but multiple community gardens, make a donation!

If you have the funds and the desire to give back, you can reach out and let them know you’re interested in supporting the community garden community. 

Any donation will help fund new projects and provide support to new and existing community gardens throughout the city!

Benefits of joining a community garden

Picture of someone holding a plant with a woman in the background.
Photo by Benjamin Combs via Unsplash

Now that you know how to join and start a community garden, you may be asking yourself “Why should I even join one?” Well, I’m here to tell you that community gardens host many benefits that can enhance both your personal and community well-being.

On a personal level, community gardens offer a sanctuary for reducing stress and increasing your sense of wellness. They also keep you physically active and promote a healthy lifestyle.

But the benefits don’t stop there. Community gardens play a crucial role in fostering welcoming and safer neighbourhoods by providing a space where residents can come together to build connections. They also help reduce food insecurity, while also boosting the look of your neighbourhood.

From an environmental perspective, community gardens are champions of sustainability, as they help clean the air, reduce waste and decrease summer temperatures. They also serve as a cultural hub where residents from different backgrounds and ages can come together to share experiences and knowledge.

Picture of a kid and an adult taking care of a garden.
Photo by CDC via Unsplash

Are you ready to start your plant parent journey this summer? Head over to the City of Toronto website and discover a community garden near your doorstep!

Once you’ve found your gardening haven, share your journey and your green babies with us on Instagram. But most importantly, embrace the warm weather and spend time doing some outdoor activities that will refresh your soul!

Feature image by Ny Menghor via Unsplash.

Are you wondering how gardening works? Check five tips to be the perfect plant parent this summer!

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