A community garden with accessibility at its heart
September 8, 2015
The Green Line is a vision to create a 5km linear park and trail to connect communities through the Dupont hydro corridor. Read more about the project here and sign up as a supporter. Written by Friends of the Green Line member Erika Hennebury.
It’s a bucolic late-summer scene at the Frankel Lambert Community Garden. Bees drift between heavy sunflowers. Crickets (almost) drown out the street noise. The trees that line the garden cast cool shadows over the communal picnic table, where meetings and monthly potluck suppers are held, and the garden is heaving with ripe produce ready to harvest.
The distinctive sunflower mural at the eastern entrance to Frankel Lambert Park, where the garden is located, acts as a cheerful greeting. It was coordinated by retired art teacher Barbara Bunting and maintained by a team of senior artists from nearby Christie Gardens, a long-term care and retirement community.
Wherever you look you see the dedication and energy of local community members.
In 2008 Councillor Joe Mihevc and his staff held a community meeting at Christie Gardens to propose a community garden along the linear park just north of the corner of Dupont and Christie Streets. One year later shovels were in the ground and the Frankel Lambert Community Garden was born.
Councillor Mihevc’s support has been instrumental, offering help with permits and applications and helping to secure resources such as fencing, a shed (with a green roof), and access to water. Local community members and businesses pitched in too, donating building materials, expertise and labour to dig garden plots, build a compost bin and raised beds. They even helped to erect a weathervane as a memorial to a respected community member.
What makes Frankel Lambert Community Garden unique is its commitment to accessibility.
“We strive to ensure that the garden is a space that everyone who lives in the neighbourhood feels welcome”, says Charles Levkoe, one of the garden’s founding members. The garden, designed by a local architect and garden member, is composed of ground level and raised garden beds (for easier access), and carves a more organic path than many of the grid-like allotment gardens in the city.
As well as family and individual plots, the garden includes communal plots, lush landscaping of trees and plantings, and paths to stroll along. A recent expansion includes a pollinator garden that celebrates the Green Line.
“These kinds of projects, including day-to-day activities, highlight the value of the garden as a space for a wide range of people from the neighbourhood to come together and form relationships – not to mention grow and share amazing food”, says Levkoe. Membership is comprised of Christie Gardens community members, Fred Dowling Co-op members and residents from local Toronto Community Housing as well as private homes and apartments in the neighbourhood.