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Construction underway for Calvin Park Community Harvest Garden

Construction is underway as of Thursday on the newest community garden project from Loving Spoonful and Community Harvest Kingston, this time teaming up with Kingston Frontenac Public Library.

In a news release from KFPL, the library says Loving Spoonful and KFPL share common goals of “making a positive difference and helping local communities be healthier and more connected”, a goal which a community garden at the Calvin Park Branch could help achieve.

“This new partnership will bring the community together around an essential common element— delicious, healthy food,” said Kimberly Sutherland Mills, Director, Service Design and Delivery at KFPL in a press release.

“(The garden) provides an opportunity to learn and grow together, with KFPL providing garden-inspired programs and resources for all to enjoy. A wide expanse of grass and young trees remains for our neighbours and patrons who want to get some exercise or curl up with a good book!”

KFPL says that the garden is part of a larger goal to rejuvenate the green space around Calvin Park, it will be coordinated by Loving Spoonful.

The release adds that decision making around the garden has taken place in consultation with community members and library patrons, who they say are supportive of the project.

This year, Community Harvest falls under the umbrella of Loving Spoonful’s urban agriculture program for the first time, which is helping the program expand thanks to access to grants.

Specifically for the KFPL Calvin Park location, a $15,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area was secured and will go toward the cost of a shed, wash-up station, and materials to build raised beds.

Community Harvest Farmer Marie Bencze designed the garden that is in the process of being built.

When finished, it will consist of raised beds that are four feet wide and ranging from 20-45 feet in length, with half sitting at 24 inches in height and half at 12 to be more accessible to children. ,

The surface of each bed is lined by a geotextile membrane to keep it from touching the grass below as per municipal guidelines.

Bencze says that she thinks a community garden partnership with the library is one that makes a lot of sense, and she hopes to see gardens built at more branches.

“To me it seems like a really natural pairing,” Bencze said.

“Community is already coming, there’s already access to land, there’s already information about growing and the library has all these really exciting ideas about events that could happen in the garden.”

Loving Spoonful, through consultation with Immigrant Services Kingston & Area and KEYS Newcomer Services, identified the location as a good place to reach newcomer communities.

As such, Bencze says there are plans to grow crops that aren’t typical to Canadian gardens, and are often impossible to find affordably at grocery stores.

When fully constructed the garden will hold Community Harvest Markets on Thursdays and occasionally act as a host to Loving Spoonful’s new Mobile Kitchen, which is also in the process of being built.

Benzce said prices at the markets for fresh produce will be “quite nominal” in comparison to typical farmers markets, with an emphasis on affordable, local food.

The Calvin Park garden, along with a new permaculture orchard coming together at the new Kingston East Community Centre, will join a growing list of community gardens throughout the city – a list Loving Spoonful and Community Harvest Kingston hope to continue to grow.

Benzce says although the labour and upkeep will be up to herself, Loving Spoonful, and a dedicated team of volunteers; local farmers deserve a ton of credit for the success of the gardens.

“The farmers are the ones that really make sure we are given this really healthy seedling,” Benzce said.

“Then it’s kind of our job to keep it alive, weed it and make sure we’re getting a really good harvest out of everything… without the farmers support Community Harvest wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”

Construction is expected to take roughly 3 weeks.

Planting and volunteer schedules will soon be coordinated for the garden, and Community Harvest is accepting volunteers for a variety of roles in different community gardens throughout Kingston.

Based on other gardens in the city, the Calvin Park location is expected to produce well over 2,000 pounds of food per year, equivalent to 2,000 meals.

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