Guelph-Wellington Urban Agriculture Challenge Update

We are incredibly grateful for the big effects of this very practical grant!

Thank-you to the myriad of folks collaborating together to implement and fund our project.

Here are some fun facts from the year:

Community Garden Expansion

  • The new access to water in the Upper Pond field transformed the area into the most productive we have ever seen it! It was beautiful! The new water access services both the new community gardens and the community orchard. The photos below show the transformation of a field into gardens and the water infrastructure enabled by the grant.
  • 108 new garden plots were created this year covering 38,500 ft2 or 9/10 of an acre for new gardens (1 acre including paths!)
  • Gardeners had plots from 100 ft2 to 3000 ft2 in the new area, which included
    • New and seasoned gardeners
    • Homestead-scale food growing
    • Micro food businesses
    • Individuals and families growing food to alleviate reliance on food banks
    • Research plots and crop breeding/seed-saving plots
  • When we estimate that a minimum of 2 people eat from a garden plot, but often 2 people for every 100 ft2 of garden space, somewhere between 200 to 750 individuals ate from the new garden area!
  • Ten Community garden volunteer events rolled out the set up and take down the gardens, and plus a final ‘Clean & Glean’ event, contributing a total of 116 volunteer hours.
  • Nine community garden working share volunteers (waterlines and weed surveyors), contributed about 40 hours each, for an additional 360 hours!
  • A community gardener initiated weekly collection and delivery of produce donations to the North End Harvest market. 23 bushels of produce were dropped off by community gardeners and delivered this season. That’s approximately 23 coolers full of delicious produce! This volunteer time is in addition to the preceding totals.
  • One very fun element of the gardens this year is that a livestock farmer rented the Lower Pond field as part of the grazing rotation for her cattle. It was a very lovely addition to the feel of the gardens… and they only escaped once into the gardens! Fortunately, it was late September, so the gardens were well established and the best travel route and grass/clover to eat was in the central path! Photo included below!

Community Orchard

Thanks to the Urban Agriculture Challenge funding, we held:

  • Four orchard care workshops with 43 participants total,
  • One drop-in orchard & garden tour as part of the Guelph Community Gardens Festival,
  • one community orchard visioning session with 5 participants and 2 youth,
  • four staffed u-pick events, with about 40 participants,
  • 2 cider pressings during Ignatius Farm CSA pick-ups with many families helping and tasting!

In addition,

  • Fruit tree consulting/training was provided for free to five other community gardens/orchards
  • 17 unique orchard volunteers donated 60 hours of time and came out regularly to tend and enjoy the orchard

Orchard Anecdotes:

Each year the thing that brings me the greatest joy in the orchard is seeing kids get excited about the fruit in the trees, and to see them have so much fun climbing the trees. Our apple trees have been pruned to have a scaffold of strong sideways branches that, in addition to being an ideal branch structure for orchard management, also make them excellent climbing trees. Many parents have a hard time getting their kids out of these beautiful old trees because they so enjoy the opportunity to climb them and pick fruit that they can immediately eat out of hand. – Matt Soltys, orchardist

It was quite special to receive this feedback via email after an autumn orchard care workshop:

Hello Pamela, 

I attended this workshop and Matt was just so informative. He is very well grounded and informed in this area and he kept his presentation simple for us to understand. He answered any questions we had. It was a great pleasure to be able to attend this. It started to rain terribly and we stood under Pine trees for some protection while Matt explained things and answered questions. Unfortunately I think he became a bit too wet and cold however we finished close to 3.

I learned so much as did the other 2 girls that were present. They seemed to enjoy it very much. Thank you.

Kind Regards, C.E.

Thank-you to everyone – from volunteers and staff to contractors to the funding collaborators – who are facilitating these beautiful community opportunities!

Check out the photo gallery!

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