//static.getclicky.com/js

All the cabbage you can eat – all you have to do is grow it and there soon just might be a place to do that in Burlington.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 30, 2011 – The city should soon have a community garden with allotted plots for people – just who is going to run the place and how it will be managed is still up in the air.

https://www.burlingtongazette.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Lutheran-church-garden.jpg

https://www.burlingtongazette.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Lutheran-church-garden.jpg

The Parks and Recreation people are a bit swamped these days and weren’t quite sure what Michelle Bennett and Amy Schnurr, Executive Director of Burlington Green wanted when they showed up and said they had a great idea for a community garden and they wanted to involve the city – and it wasn’t going to cost very much.

The Parks and Recreation people liked the idea but had some difficulty getting their heads around what the Burlington Green Ladies were proposing. Their plan was to create and manage a “teaching/demonstration garden”, which they did not see as a pilot project. The difference between a pilot and what the Ladies were proposing was their efforts were not intended to be duplicated elsewhere in the city.

Their contribution to the betterment of the community the Burlington Green Ladies explained was the experience they would be able to pass along to others who wanted to create community gardens. They had applied for a grant from the provincial government which they got, and now wanted to develop plans and ideas that could be given to other people.

Parks and Recreation sort of said – if you get the grant come back and talk to us but there were a number of Council members who really liked the idea and with a political will behind it Parks and Recreation took a closer look.

Michelle Bennett, a gardener and a Burlington Green activist, has been promoting the idea of a community garden on city property for some time.  With provincial grant funds in hand – the dream appears about to become a reality.

Michelle Bennett, a gardener and a Burlington Green activist, has been promoting the idea of a community garden on city property for some time. With provincial grant funds in hand – the dream appears about to become a reality.

Well, the Ladies got a grant of $74,650 paid out to them over a two year period. The hurdle they now had to get over was the 15% contribution from the city – again over two years but it still amounted to $11,200. The plan is for the city to provide the land – some space in Central Park in a location that is out of the way of other park activities and has immediate access to water. The city is prepared to till the land and erect a chain link fence. Then what?

Someone has to manage the operation and given that the city isn’t on a hiring binge there was going to be a field with a fence around it and water available – but no program.

When the Burlington Green Ladies appeared before a Council Committee all they had was an idea and a pending grant application. City manager Roman Martiuk can put on his best scowl when he hears groups asking for money said the city has a policy on grants to community groups – it is No!

Michelle Bennett shows what can be produced in a community garden.  This one is at the rear of the Lutheran church on Lakeshore road which has a waiting list more than a year long.

Michelle Bennett shows what can be produced in a community garden. This one is at the rear of the Lutheran church on Lakeshore road which has a waiting list more than a year long.

Interestingly, no one on the Council side has come forward with a Staff Direction to create such a policy. The lack of a policy gets mentioned at the Strategic Plans discussions but there doesn’t seem to be a strong desire on the part of either Council or Staff to get into the habit of giving grants to community groups. The city will make facilities available at reduced rates – but tax money won’t be going out the door to groups with an idea and a plan.

Which makes it difficult for like the Burlington Green Ladies who managed to raise $74,650. on the condition that the city put in an amount equal to 15% of the grant. Because the provincial grant allows the city portion to be paid out over time – as long as it is paid by June 2013– the Burlington Green ladies had what that felt was a bit of a “no-brainer” – but things haven’t quite gone that way for them – so far.

There appears to be enough political will on Council for this to go forward even though there are some questions as to why other existing community garden groups are not involved. The Burlington Lutheran Church on Lakeshore Road has a community garden with some 20 plots that are actively used which has been running for years.

Michelle Bennett paces off the distance for the Community Garden Burlington Green hopes to be able to convince the city to go along with. The BG’s got 85% of the money through a provincial government grant, and now want 15% from the city. The site is also the second choice as a location for the Freeman station that a community group is determined to save.

And so what is it that the Burlington Green Ladies will be going forward with? They are going to have $74,650 from the province and are looking for $11,200 from the city for a total expenditure of $85,850. for a proposed 26 garden plots in place and available for a two years period. Councilor Jack Dennison, who always looks at the numbers, sort of gulped when he realized that $1650.96 would be spent to create each plot – you can buy a lot of cabbage for $1650.

Add to that the $50. each person would pay to have a garden plot allocated to them and the numbers part of this “idea” needs a serious second look. What the Ladies want people to do is not look at what it is going to cost to create and make a plot available but rather look at what they are going to do with the funds they receive.

“This isn’t about us creating garden plots for people to use”, explains Michelle Bennett, Local Food Outreach Coordinator for Burlington Green. “It is about establishing the city’s first Community Garden project with associated assets and programming to create a living educational resource site.” Clear as mud, right?

What the Burlington Green Ladies want to do is create a community garden and put together all the material, notes, templates, best practices – all the stuff one needs to allow others to have a model to follow. That comes to close to $85,000. The Burlington Green Ladies did manage to get the $75,000 +, which will make it awfully hard for city council to say no, especially with a council that is partial to almost anything environmental.

What is the money going to be used for? What will the “community” get out of this other than a couple of jobs for Burlington Green people? Will the “jobs” created be open to outsiders?

The city is providing the land, tilling it and paying for the chain link fence and setting up access to water. The Burlington Green Ladies didn’t present a business plan to the Council committee but city hall staff have been working with them a little more closely now that a grant is actually in hand.

The proposal goes to council committee on the July 13 to finalize the operating model and then to Council on July 18. We will find out then just how much cabbage one gets for $85,000. Get out your seed catalog.

[retweet]

 

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.