Orillia Community Gardens (OCG) celebrates another incredibly successful year thanks to the contributions of countless people and organizations. We have harvested something in nearly every month bringing us closer than ever to our long-term goal of year-round food production. Thank you to the Simcoe County Food Partners Alliance for awarding OCG with a Food and Agriculture Charter Champion Award for “Best Community Garden”.
OCG shared 1100 pounds of fresh produce with The Sharing Place Food Bank this season, estimating equal amounts were harvested on a self-assessed, as needed basis, by people enjoying the gardens. We erected a geodesic dome greenhouse at the community garden atop the hill at Regent Park United Church. Thanks to Steve Appleby for donating this masterful piece of woodwork, presently sheltering 9 varieties of cold tolerant plants growing even now with the favourable weather. We built a shed there also to support a cluster of 3 community gardens in the south ward.
Another great success this year has been the involvement of Regent Park Public School students led by teacher Lisa Kent-Ligers. The enthusiastic support of staff and students there has been amazing. Ross McIntyre and Sustainable Schools volunteers provided crucial support in making these sessions a success, as well as other school garden initiatives in Orillia. On the education front, we would also like to acknowledge the Orillia Native Women’s Group, Lakehead University Orillia – Community Garden Project, and the Orillia Food Council for their growing support.
A special thanks to our on-going partners at Davey Gravel who have helped us for the past 5 seasons by delivering compost, enabling a dramatic increase in production. We’d like to thank Scott’s Garden Centre for hosting the Grow a Row program in the spring and caring for those plants in their greenhouse as well as donating several trays of different plants. Ego’s Nurseries also donated several much appreciated trays of plants and herbs. A big thanks to the Orillia and District Construction Association for donating a $500 gift card for materials to build the shed. And thanks to Home Depot for donating a $1000 card with which we bought a lawnmower as well as materials for the shed. Home Hardware donated delivery of the shed materials as well as 2 blueberry bushes and a pot of dwarf raspberry canes. Thanks to Kevin Gangloff and the Orillia Youth Centre for work in the gardens and behind the scenes. A big thank-you to Foodbanks Canada and Compass Group for grant money which bought many berry bushes, plants, seeds, tools, lumber for a scooter/wheelchair accessible raised bed at St. David’s Anglican-Lutheran Church community garden, as well as materials for a greenhouse we will build next season at a site yet to be determined. And thanks to Christine Hager and The Sharing Place Food Bank for administering this grant. Thanks also to MP Bruce Stanton for donating 2 picnic tables through the Tables By Teens program. We now have a picnic table at the High St Park garden and in the woodlot on the hill at Regent Park United church. Thanks also to Metro Orillia for their donation of extra seeds and the Orillia Public Library for their continued support running the Orillia Seed Library program and making meeting rooms available. Thanks to the City of Orillia and city staff for donating compost and work on various projects, like the development of a community garden policy for the City of Orillia. OCG would like to encourage and remind the public to safely utilize your green bins, and avoid composting toxic or inorganic materials, such as batteries and plastic, which could end up in our food gardens!
Finally, thanks to all others who have contributed in various ways by donating time and labour, plants, seeds, tools, materials and money to make all the produce and services the gardens provide possible. We have a lot of work behind us and a lot more ahead of us. OCG would like to invite the public to visit our website www.orilliacommunitygardens.org or follow us on facebook or twitter, to monitor our progress and learn of ways to participate in growing this worthwhile community endeavour.