Garden Update: December 2022
Dear Garden Friends,
Well, it's official! The Working Centre Market Garden is now closed. Check out the Garden Updates below for more information on the amazing work we did over the last 11 seasons!
October and November were busy! With the property slated to change hands on December 1st, we sure worked hard to rescue as many plants, tools, and pieces of infrastructure we could!
We were able to dig out nearly 30 fruit bearing shrubs, which have been relocated to Wiijindamaan; a site along the Grand River that is being stewarded by the amazing folks at White Owl Native Ancestry in partnership with other organizations. Gooseberries, blackberries, chokeberries, hazelnuts, elderberries, serviceberries, and asparagus. It has been incredibly satisfying and healing to see them dug into their new homes this fall!
The greenhouse at the garden was also relocated this fall (though for now it is in pieces in storage). In the spring it will find it's way over to the garden plot at Columbia Lake, where it can be put to good use by the White Owl gardeners growing seedlings and continuing to serve as a space to grow skills. We're just so glad this invaluable gardening tool will continue to serve the community in creative ways!
Although the Working Centre Market Garden is closing, there is amazing food-work continuing to be done in the local community! Connecting with so many amazing gardening organizations and gardeners has been a joy and a privilege these many years. For those of you interested in supporting this work, you can check out organizations such as: The Cambridge Food Bank, Young City Growers, KW Habilitation/Our Farm, White Owl Native Ancestry, RARE Charitable Research Reserve, Growing Hope Farm. For local farmers and farm businesses to support, visit our "Where to Get Your Vegetables" page here.
Wishing you all the best!
- Adam and the Working Centre Market Gardeners
Garden Update: July 2022
Dear Garden Friends,
As you know, the garden has been going through many changes this season! Though the property remains for sale and we cannot say precisely what the future holds, we thought you might enjoy an update on what we've been up to!
Gardening Tips from a Farmer: Soil Ecosystems and Sustainable Agriculture
Tuesday, July 12th at 2:30pm
Join us in the garden next week for a hands-on workshop exploring the amazing world beneath our feet! An opportunity to learn some of the basics about the physical and chemical properties of soil, as well as the amazing diversity of creatures that live in it. We'll go over ways you can partner with the life in your soil to support your garden and explore some of the tools and practices that will help it thrive!
To see a complete list of this summer's workshops, including "Garden Pests and Diseases" and "Plant Identification" and more, visit www.seeds.ca
Volunteering at the Garden:
The garden remains a wonderful space for community building and learning!
Though the garden is not operating at it's full capacity, we are pleased that we can spend the season maintaining and harvesting our perennial fruit and flower crops, as well as growing a small demonstration vegetable garden.
Mondays - 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Tuesdays - 9:00am to 4:00pm
Location: 1254 Union St., Kitchener
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-575-1118
This spring we harvested a healthy amount of asparagus and rhubarb, and have just begun harvesting the red currants, gooseberries, and soon enough, elderberries. It looks like it will be a good year for pears, a bad year for peaches, and a so-so year for apples. Garlic, carrots, squash, cucumber, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, eggplant, beets, radishes, onions, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, corn... lots of tasty things to harvest this season!
Some fruits and vegetables will make their way to market, but most of what we are growing is to share with volunteers and with our friends at House of Friendship.
Farming for the Bees:
The garden is literally buzzing with bees these days! Rather than abandoning the garden plots to the weeds, we took some time this spring to seed a wide array of flowers and grasses that will naturalize in the garden. That, along with the milkweed and other wild plants, means the birds, bees, butterflies, and other bugs are having a field day! Yesterday we counted over 10 different species of bee in one small patch of the garden and found so many monarch caterpillars on one stalk of milkweed! It's great that we can support such a thriving ecosystem this season!
The Walk-in Fridge Supporting Community-Based Food Systems:
Our walk-in refrigerator is still getting lots of use! Fridge space is invaluable to small-scale vegetable growers, so we are so glad to share an important resource with some other farmers and community groups!
Around market days it isn't uncommon for the fridge to have produce from 5 different farms! Littlefoot Community Projects uses it to store vegetables for their "Feed Change Market" which takes place on Sundays from 10:30am to 2:00pm on Gaukel Street in downtown Kitchener. Lucky Bug Farm keeps their vegetables cool in the lead-up to weekly CSA share pick-ups. Little Fields Farm and Milky Way Farm use it as a drop off point for their market leftovers that Adam takes over to House of Friendship on Tuesday mornings. White Owl Native Ancestry stores produce donations from the Ignatius Jesuit Centre that they distribute within their community. What an amazing example of community-based food systems in action and a meaningful way for our garden to continue serving the community!
Good Work News from The Working Centre:
Finally, if you're not already in the know, there are some important announcements coming from The Working Centre!
St. John's Kitchen, and 97 Victoria Street, is set to become an integrated campus that combines housing, community, health services and access to a wide range of supports. Learn More and Donate HERE!
You can also read all about it in the latest edition of "Good Work News", The Working Centre's quarterly newsletter. READ IT HERE!
Thank you for your support!
-- The Working Centre Market Gardeners
Garden Update: March 2022
Dear Garden Friends,
As many of you know, the property that we have called home for the past 10 seasons has been for sale for some time. Recently it has become clear that with so much uncertainty surrounding the sale of the property, we cannot continue moving forward as usual. For that reason, we have come to the incredibly difficult decision to close the garden for the season ahead.
Find information about where to purchase local vegetables in Kitchener-Waterloo this season HERE!
Many of us are losing a place of belonging, beauty, and peace, a place of hard work, fun, and abundant vegetables. Though we grieve the loss of such a vibrant community space, we can all be so proud of our many accomplishments. There is so much worth celebrating!
The multitudes of volunteer gardeners that have worked the land are, after 10 years, far beyond count – easily numbering in the thousands. Eight cohorts of community-based market gardening interns have spent a season at the garden – that’s over 40 people gaining the practical skills, knowledge, and confidence to grow food for themselves and their communities. The garden has also been a place of employment and livelihood – not only for year-round staff, but also for seasonal and casual workers from our community. Together, we produced nearly 100,000 pounds of vegetables and grew the Working Centre’s Community Supported Agriculture share program from 40 members to over 160! Together, we worked with nature to transform the garden into a thriving and diverse ecosystem, teeming with plant and animal life that feasted on the garden’s abundance. Together, we created an open and welcoming community where friendship flourished as we found common purpose in nourishing the land as it nourished us.
Though you may not easily recognize it, each of you has made a unique contribution to the garden and belong to the community that has stewarded it. Many of you have been out in the garden, working hard with your hands in the dirt. Many of you have been in your offices, supporting our work from behind the scenes in diverse ways. Many of you have been gardening your own plots and participating in a community of knowledge exchange and material support that will continue to reverberate throughout our community. And even more of you have enjoyed a meal featuring the fruits of our common work that you received in a CSA share or from the community fridge or food bank. For all our diverse contributions, we can all be proud of what we have accomplished and can only express gratitude to one another for having worked together to help build a more sustainable and equitable community based food system.
Now, as we move forward together, we will take time to reflect upon seasons past and dream of new ways to engage in the meaningful work of growing food sustainably in community and building the skills, knowledge, and resources to support it. Though we do not yet know what opportunities lie ahead, we invite you to join us as we chart a path forward. Please feel free to be in touch with your support, ideas, or opportunities, and consider subscribing to our email list HERE. We look forward to cultivating new opportunities for community-based ecological farming that will carry on the legacy of the garden!
With pride and gratitude,
- Adam, Vanessa, and the Working Centre Market Gardeners