Updates from an Amateur Gardener, Pt. 1

April 10, 2024

I feel like I’ve won the lottery! A few weeks ago, I got an email from the Oswald Park Community Garden letting me know that there was a garden plot for me. How exciting! 

I live in a third-storey apartment with a very small balcony that doesn’t get a lot of light. I worked from home during the pandemic, and like many people, I got very into my houseplants. I did what I could with the balcony (and I confess I’ve killed a lot of plants). But after working for the Compost Education Centre amidst a beautiful demonstration site (come visit anytime!) for a couple months, I started to hanker for something more. The reasons to grow your own food are extensive. It increases your personal physical and mental health, leads to greater food security, and creates community. I think I also wanted to make the work I do a bit more tangible. As Executive Director, I do a lot of sitting at my computer and in meetings thinking and talking and writing about composting, circular food systems, and community resilience. I love it, but it can feel a bit abstract. I guess I want to make and use some compost with my hands instead of my words. 

I went down a bit of a rabbit hole trying to get my apartment building to okay me starting a boulevard garden, and I received a hard no from the building’s strata council. I put my name on some community garden waitlists, and I daydreamed about starting a guerilla garden somewhere on a piece of neglected land by our apartment. My partner and I talked about housing prices and whether we’d ever want to move out of our cozy apartment to somewhere with a yard. It didn’t feel like my energy was going anywhere. So when the message from Oswald Park Community Garden popped into my email inbox, it felt like a ray of sunshine on a grim late February day. It felt like the promise of spring warmth and long summer days. It felt like I had a place to put my energy. 

I’ve started polling folks for advice, and I have to admit my recent Google search looks something like “first year community garden plot help.” If I had known a few months ago that I was going to have a garden plot, I probably would have registered for Kayla’s “Grow the Best Garden: 5-Part Workshop Series.” Kayla is the CEC’s Site Manager and Community Education Coordinator, and one person who attended her workshops described her as their “invaluable gardening mentor guiding [them] through this journey with unwavering expertise and passion.” I’ve already missed the first two workshops of the series so I’m following the advice of one Redditor to “be patient, be prepare to fail, and be happy to start again.” I’m also asking Kayla for advice on our lunch breaks, and I’m poring over the CEC’s extensive factsheets. 

Stay tuned here for more updates! 

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