Starting a community garden can take a long time, for anyone seeking to begin a community garden it is crucial to understand that it is a lot of work.
The first step to start a community garden in Ottawa is to attend a “How to Start a Community Garden workshop.” These workshops are offered periodically through the year. For up to date information on when the next workshop will be held, please sign up for the Just Food Newsletter. Once they are planned, they will be posted on our newsletter & our website in the “newsbites” section.
As a little bit of homework in advance of attending the workshop, interested community members can:
- Find at least 2 other team members to help with garden coordination in the initial stages
- Seek community support from local community organizations, such as Community Associations, Community Health & resource Centers, your local City Councillor, or any other community organizations including BIAs, schools, youth groups, etc..
- Begin identifying parcels of land that you would be interested in using for a community garden site. The aforementioned community organizations are an excellent resource to find out if about possible supported sites & the different land opportunities in your neighbourhood.
It is not required to do all this in advance of the workshop, but consider starting some of the above if you want to get a head start. Be sure to let the CGN Coordinator know about your progress and to check in if any challenges arise.
Starting a Garden on City-owned Land
There are many community gardens on City owned land, including Parks, near recreation centres, or any other city-owned land types.
In order to start a garden on City Owned land, be sure to attend the How to Start a Community Garden workshop. Afterwards if you wish to move forward on City-owned land, be in touch with the CGN Coordinator to begin the process. There will also be an additional training session to assist with approvals for City-owned land.
Community Development Fund
Gardens seeking funding for their projects can apply to the Community Garden Development Fund.
The Community Garden Development Fund was established in 2009, as a collaborative program between Just Food, the City of Ottawa and members of the Community Gardening Network, each providing representation to the annual allocations committee. The annual $76,000 fund is used to start new community gardens, and to expand and enhance existing gardens, within the City of Ottawa.
In August 2015 Ottawa City Council passed a motion to increase the Community garden Development Fund by $15,000 annually until the end of 2018.
For more information on the Community Garden Development Fund please visit the CGDF page.
A Word on Soil Testing & Safety.
Whether you pursue a community garden, or a home one of the most important pieces to consider is the safety of the soil you are growing in. Testing the soil for contaminants is VERY IMPORTANT. If you are seeking funding through the Community Garden Development Fund, or building on City land, the soil must be tested through us at the Community Gardening Network. If you are ineligible for funding or are starting a unique garden on your own, ensure that you read our guide on soil testing, found here.