The Gloucester Allotment Garden Assoc. took over the NCC community gardens, located near Blackburn Hamlet (one site at Orient Park Dr. and one at Anderson Rd) in 1981 when the NCC abandoned the allotment garden program throughout the region – we have just completed our 28th year of operation (the NCC operated these two sites for about 15 years prior to 1981). We are a non-profit incorporated volunteer organization with a Board of Directors that operates about 250 garden plots for its member gardeners. We provide both annual plots (that we till every year) and perennial plots (that the user tills) for the purpose of growing vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruits. In excess of 500 gardeners benefit from our program; families with young children, seniors, new Canadians and others from many ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Our gardeners are primarily from the east end of Ottawa but we do have some members from Gatineau and Ottawa centre. We have provided free plots to senior homes and to those economically dis-advantaged, and continue to offer such services whenever requested. We also encourage gardeners who grow vegetables for area Food Banks.
Our Board and member volunteers have planned, organized, acquired and/or implemented most functions associated with the operation of 250 garden plots during the last 28 years, including publicity, registration, member liaison, web-site construction and maintenance, compost delivery and management, plot staking, tilling, acquisition of water at our Anderson Rd site, grass cutting, fall clean-up and the maintenance of the above-ground water system at our Orient Park site as well as replacing most of the water tanks at our Anderson Rd plots. We also liaise with the City of Ottawa, who maintain access roads and the underground water system at our Orient Park site and store our Anderson Rd. water troughs during the winter season. We have also been involved, over the life of our Association, in a number of one-time projects, including the installation of underground drainage at Orient Park, the renovation of surface drainage at both of our garden locations, as well as the establishment of additional garden plots
The Anderson Rd Gardens are located within the NCC greenbelt and are now completely surrounded by trees. Deer, groundhog, rabbit and racoon populations have recently exploded, and find the tree growth protective and the vegetables, fruit and flowers that are grown at this garden site very tempting. As a result, many of the plants at the Anderson Gardens have been consumed by animals over the last few years. The site is peaceful and natural, a real treasure within the City of Ottawa. Nevertheless, we have had a high turnover rate in recent years because of the animal damage – over 50% of gardeners have been giving up in the last couple of years.
Consequently, the Association decided to find funding to build a protective fence around the Anderson Rd. Garden site. As the City of Ottawa was operating the Green Partnership Program (GPP), we decided to apply to this program for fence funding. However, because this program excludes capital projects, we had to apply to the Ottawa Planning & Environmental Committee (PEC) for a funding exception. Our local Councillor, Rainer Bloess, and his assistant, Lynn Leduc, as well as a neighbouring Councillor, Bob Monette who sat on the PEC, were very helpful and persistent in acquiring the necessary funds that allowed us to buy the fence materials. Volunteers from the Anderson site erected the fence – a total of 665 hours of volunteer time were spent on planning and construction – (actual ground work started on September 8th and was essentially finished by October 24th).
We expect great gardening in 2009 and beyond – most Anderson gardeners have already indicated that they will be returning in 2009; and we plan to open 10 new gardens at the site (five of these plots are already spoken for)!
We are confident that the Anderson site, located in an ideal setting, will again support a beautiful and vigorous growth of vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruits grown by people from a wide spectrum of cultural, ethnic, age and economic backgrounds. It will mean increased food production for gardeners with less turn-over and resignations, including a more reliable supply of vegetables for the Anderson gardeners who grow for local Food Banks. The establishment and maintenance of healthy and productive community gardens, growing a mix of vegetables, flowers, herbs and small fruits is a wonderful addition to traditional urban recreational models that usually concentrate on city parks and sports fields.
You may view a slide show portraying some of the volunteers who helped build the fence below.