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Growing Our Gardens

GBB hit the topsoil running with three major garden projects underway this growing season.  This year is the most ambitious for gardening projects since programming began in 2009 with the addition of a Community Garden, a Backyard Garden pilot project, and dozens of container gardens distributed to enhance food security in eastern Georgian Bay. 

GBB’s gardening programs contribute to sustainable food systems, an important part of being a UNESCO biosphere reserve. A key factor of sustainable food systems is knowledge sharing and building capacity for people to grow their own food. 

“It’s amazing to see how garden programming continues to evolve over time. What never changes is people’s overwhelming support, enthusiasm, and interest in growing their own food. This has only increased since we’ve started,” says Education Programs Manager, Delaina Arnold. “In our work along the Bay, the support from local partners and gardeners has turned a simple goal into an inspiring movement. People are hungry for more!”

With the help of volunteers this May, GBB finished a new community garden consisting of six raised beds in MacTier. This addition brings the total to nine community gardens that GBB supports throughout the region. 

“As an apartment renter, I really appreciate having a community garden plot. I value that everything produced here has a smaller carbon footprint, and appreciate the taste so much more!” says Ashley, a Parry Sound Community Gardener. Later this year, an accessible path will be built around the raised garden beds at The Hub Community Garden in Parry Sound to create greater accessibility for wheelchair users. 

In addition to community garden expansion and upgrades, a Backyard Garden program was launched this spring with support from the Fyfe Foundation. The goal of the project is for families to develop the skills they need to become accomplished gardeners and grow healthy, affordable food for a lifetime without cost being a barrier to starting gardening. For the project, GBB staff fund all costs and work with participants to build a raised garden bed on their property, plant a variety of vegetables and herbs, and provide mentorship throughout the growing season. Community agencies helped GBB recruit thirty families to help build a garden they can use this season and future years.

“The Backyard Garden project has been very exciting for the participating families in Shawanaga First Nation,” says Zachary Potts, Family Well Being Coordinator with the Shawanaga First Nation Healing Centre. “We see people who now have the space to grow food when before they might not have. There was a ton of interest and we’re hopeful that this may stir even more momentum for local food projects.” 

This year, the GBB was able to continue their “GrowingTogether” container gardening program that began in 2020 as a response to the pandemic. Over 60 elementary school students from MacTier and Honey Harbour public schools learned how to assemble planters full of vegetables, fruit and herbs. Students took their planters home and will harvest produce from them throughout the summer. With benefits ranging from physical exercise and fresh air, all the way to better mental health and improved diet, gardening is great for all ages! 

Ready to grow your own food? Check out our gardening resources.

A new raised bed garden is built and planted at the Little Eagle Childcare Centre
The MacTier Community Garden

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