A working group consisting of a number of local agencies is looking to establish a community garden in Sam Smith Park. Those agencies include the Gatehouse, LAMP, Daily Bread Food Bank, Foodshare, Humber College and the Ward 6 Community Action Team. The group’s goals, besides community food security, are focused around physical, mental, emotional and social health, community building and education – the garden would become a catalyst for “social alchemy”, to use their phrase.
- Individual family allotments
- Community garden where a group of volunteers would work together to provide vegetables and fruit for local needs
- “Healing garden” (therapeutic purposes; meditation etc.)
- It is a wildlife corridor, particularly for spring and fall bird migration, and heavily used and enjoyed by birders
- FOSS’s hope is that the buried Jackson Creek that runs through it and originally formed the wetland that is the current swale will be eventually surfaced as part of a stormwater management plan that now seems stalled, thus increasing and enhancing park habitat
- FOSS would like to see the rich undergrowth that used to be under the trees restored so that the many birds who used to use it for feeding and shelter would return
- The soil is probably contaminated from decades of industrial pollutants that were dumped in to the former creek; any new soil added might impact the root systems of the remaining trees
- Very little sunlight reaches the interior of that swale because of the tall spruce trees surrounding it and that would limit what could be grown there
- The space is quite small and would eliminate future expansion
- It is out of sight and away from passing surveillance
We suggested a better location would be east of the entrance driveway in the old orchard next to Rabba that runs down from Lakeshore Blvd. to the small swale. The space is larger, contains no significant wildlife habitat, has ”eyes on the street” and, besides, what could be better than a garden with apple trees in it! Those apple trees go back to a time when the old psychiatric hospital grew its own food and patients worked the land as part of their therapy – a fitting heritage background for this proposal.
Our suggestions were well received by the working group. As a consequence, the Gathouse will take the lead role in applying for permits. They will apply to the City to establish a healing garden just west of the Gatehouse building (next to Farah Khan’s memorial garden) and to the Toronto Region Conservation Authority to start a small community food garden at the north end of the old orchard. This should happen in the next two weeks. It remains to be seen as to how well those applications will be received.
We have not yet had the opportunity to poll Friends of Sam Smith Park to get your thoughts. We have only just learned the details. So, friends, please take a few moments to e-mail Terry Smith and let us know how you feel and think about the proposal in general, FOSS’s suggestion for the best location and the project’s compatibility with our own goals and expectations for our park.