This past summer I was fortunate to obtain a community garden plot to try my hand at urban farming in Belleville, and it was such an enjoyable experience. Every morning I would ride my bike along the beautiful Moira River to my garden plot, giddy with anticipation to see my vegetables sprout and grow. Over the months I saw my spinach turn into lush greens, green beans and cucumbers dance over my trellises, my sunflowers boom up and blossom, and the zucchini try to spread its wide leaves across an entire half of the plot. In the evenings, after work, it was such a pleasure to dig into the dirt to get the vegetables for that night’s dinner.
Community gardens improve access to affordable, healthy food and empower individuals to become more self-sustaining. Access to these gardens build safe communities and social connections and lead to opportunities for increased physical and mental health. The Bay of Quinte region is home to many community garden plots which are accessible to individuals from all walks of life. Urban farming in Belleville has been supported by the not-for-profit organisation Community Gardens Network of Hastings and Prince Edward, which facilitates access to community gardens in the area and provides resources and mentorship to aspiring gardeners. They aim to improve community garden policy, public education and awareness to support the next generation of sustainable regional food systems.
In a culture that is growing ever more urban, the concept of growing food to feed our population needs to be re-examined. Growing food in urban spaces on a smaller scale provides the opportunity to utilise otherwise unproductive spaces. Gardens can be built in empty lots, steep slopes, rooftops, and even our front yards. We can create compost for the gardens from our food scraps and produce resources for our community from what would have otherwise been wasted. Traditionally, economic and food security have been reasons to start urban farming; urban farming not only provides healthy food options to the community but can also contribute to a family’s income, offset food costs and create jobs. Socially it helps bring communities together and teaches individuals valuable life skills. Environmentally it creates a more sustainable and green environment to live and work. Economically it creates a more efficient local economy with reduced reliance on imported goods.
In an effort to continue to support urban farming and the use of community gardens in the Bay of Quinte region, Loyalist-Belleville Rotaract Club and Community Gardens Network of Hastings and Prince Edward are hosting a special event on March 30th to raise money for community and experiential learning gardens.
The event will feature a screening of the documentary ‘Growing Cities’ followed by an engaging discussion with a panel of local community subject matter experts. We will discuss the importance of sustainable food systems within our local community and provide the resources for you to learn more and become involved! Following the discussion enjoy locally sourced hors d’oeuvres from Urban Herb and wine samples from Karlo Estates.