on September 14, 2017 by test_editor in Archive_2017, Print Articles, September, WEB-EXTRA content, Comments Off on September 14, 2017: It Takes a Community to Raise a Turnip; Mechanicsville Innovative Garden in full bloom.

September 14, 2017: It Takes a Community to Raise a Turnip; Mechanicsville Innovative Garden in full bloom.

September 14, 2017: It Takes a Community to Raise a Turnip.
Mechanicsville Innovative Garden in full bloom.

By Tim Thibeault.

Starting with one bright idea and seed money from stakeholder groups such as Good Food, City of Ottawa Community Development Framework, and the Somerset West Community Health Centre, Bayview Road’s Innovation Centre got its brand new garden off to a blooming start this spring.

Friends and neighbours contributed planning know-how, design smarts, and elbow grease to get the project up and running. By late summer, the fruits of their labour were blossoming for neighbourhood residents, in the Mechanicsville Innovative Garden (MIG).

The Somerset West Community Health Centre identified a need and set in motion a plan to benefit whole communities. With a wide variety of vegetables, the garden provides the community a focal point for local green thumbs to cultivate both food and friendships while stretching household incomes and improving health through both exercise and sensible eating habits. Forget the canned asparagus, beans or tomatoes. Grow your own.

Planned from the start as a truly communal garden with no individual plots, the MIG benefits from total involvement of supporters who plan, weed and maintain the entire garden, then share in its yield. Any surplus goes to the Parkdale Food Centre.

An unplanned benefit of the whole garden experience is the extra social involvement as many seniors, and others on fixed incomes, gather to discuss not only the crop, but what they will do with it. They exchange recipe ideas and methods of preparation for some of the produce which is not necessarily familiar to all participants.

Some remember the gardens their parents tended and how those vegetables added to mealtimes while easing the strain on family budgets when cash-flow was meager and a penny saved was a penny earned.

Although started by the Somerset West Community Health Centre, the garden will be officially handed off to the Mechanicsville Community Association in the spring of 2018. MCA President Lorrie Marlow is thrilled at this turn of events and considers the project truly “innovative”.

Speaking of the planning and maintenance, Marlow says, “It’s all volunteer-driven. People use their strengths to decide what gets planted and how it is tended. Donating excess to the Parkdale Food Centre just adds to the social value of projects like this. I’m sure this idea will catch on with more neighbourhoods and eventually spread across the city.”

Marlow isn’t alone in her thinking as residents from neighbouring areas have already dropped by to watch the garden’s progress and participate themselves, in what will no doubt catch on and bring both social and economic benefits to any neighbourhood.

Anyone interested in the Mechanicsville Innovative Garden, or in starting such an enterprise in their own areas, is welcome to visit the MIG which has its own group on Facebook, or to contact the Mechanicsville Community Association for advice and encouragement.

Those who might just like to plant, cultivate, pull a few weeds and enjoy some fresh air will find a world of pleasure followed by some good eating in starting a community garden right in their own neighbourhoods.

Group photo of participants at ribbon cutting, armed with vegetables.

The Green Ribbon

Photo Caption: Surrounded by sponsors and enthusiastic supporters, Mechanicsville Community Association President Lorrie Marlow cuts the ribbon to open the Mechanicsville Innovative Garden at Ottawa’s Innovation Centre in the newly refurbished Bayview Yards. Photo courtesy of the Mechanicsville Community Association.

More photos of the MIG can be found in our on-line web-extras at newswest.org (below).

Garden sign with names of sponsors South west Community Health centre, Parkdale Food Centre, Bayview Yards, Just Food, Community Development Framework, Mechanicsville Community Centre.

Green Sponsors.

Collage of 2 images, late night gardening, with rain barrow and shed, plus late night harvest, Women hold a large turnip grown in the garden.

Moonlight Mulching.

4 closeup view of plants in garden, and plant stakes.

Community Stakes.

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