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Canada: Kitchener Community gardens will flourish under changes designed to empower residents to get growing

Left to right: Wendy Janzen, Trent Bauman, Juanita Metzger, Kai Bender, Levi Bender and Chip Bender stand with some of the produce from the community garden at Uniroyal Goodrich Park in Kitchener. – David Bebee,Record staff file photo

The City of Kitchener is turning over a new leaf on its community garden program with changes designed to help residents take the lead in starting new gardens, or maintain and upkeep existing gardens in their neighbourhoods.


Wire Service

City council recommended the approval of several changes to the city’s existing program in response to feedback received during the Love My Hood consultation. Designed to make it easier for residents to become involved in community gardening, the changes include providing insurance coverage for individual gardeners, increased funding for new gardens and providing funding to enhance existing gardens. An easy-steps guide and single staff contact will round out new supports to get more people engaged in community gardening.

“We heard residents say the demand for community gardens is growing,” says Josh Joseph, supervisor, neighbourhood development office, City of Kitchener. “There are 35 community gardens in Kitchener, including 15 on city-owned land, plus gardens on private property and we hope to increase this number each year.”

Kitchener is one of the first cities to rethink its approach to community gardens, particularly in the area of program insurance. Providing insurance coverage for individual gardeners allows citizens to take on a larger role in maintenance and upkeep, without assuming personal risk. This inexpensive but significant change allows residents to take the lead in much-loved spaces in a much more meaningful way.

“Increased funding and improved processes are some of the ways we plan to support residents who want to build a community garden” says Yvonne Westerveld Cardoso, landscape architect, City of Kitchener. Our goal is to ensure residents have the tools and resources they need to make their project a success.”

Existing gardens may be eligible for funding through the Neighbourhood Matching Grant for enhancements that benefit the entire neighbourhood, such as adding more plots, decorative features or seating areas.

Read the complete article here.