The Community Gardening Network (CGN) is a constantly growing and expanding Network of gardens across Ottawa. We are thrilled to support passionate community members coming together to build new gardens and encourage folks who are seriously interested in community gardening to get in touch with us, ask questions and begin the process.
Starting a new community garden takes time and does require a dedicated team effort and commitment. We are here to guide you, every step of the way.
If you already have a community garden and would like to join the CGN, contact us at email@example.com!
First Step: Attend a How To Start A Community Garden Workshop
The first step towards starting a community garden in Ottawa is attending one of our How to Start a Community Garden workshops.
These workshops are offered periodically throughout the year. For up-to-date information on when the next workshop will be held, please sign up for the Just Food Newsletter.
Before attending the workshop, interested community members are encouraged (but not required) to :
- Find at least 2 other team members to assist with garden coordination in the initial stages
- Seek community support from local community organizations, such as community associations, community health, recreation & resource centers, your local city councillor, and/or any other community organizations of note including BIAs, schools, youth groups, faith groups, etc.
- Begin identifying parcels of land that you would be interested in using for a community garden site. You can inquire with the aforementioned groups/organizations above, as well as visit GeoOttawa to find out more about the land you are interested in (whether it is City land or private land, a hydro corridor or a parcel already slated for development etc.) Contact the CGN Coordinator if you need help using/understanding the software.
If you are interested in applying to the Community Gardening Development Fund (CGDF) to finance your new garden, at least one member of your team is required to attend the How to Start a Community Garden workshop.
Starting a community garden on City or NCC land
If you are interested in starting a community garden on City- or NCC-stewarded land (in a public park, at a community centre, etc.) please get in touch with us first.
We are officially designated as the City/NCC’s lead coordinator of community gardens, and we work directly with the City/NCC to approve gardens on City/NCC land.
We can tell you whether or not a garden is possible on the land you are interested in, and our direct access to contacts at the City and NCC will save you a lot of time!
Send the CGN Coordinator an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell them more about your project idea.
Community Garden Development Fund (CGDF)
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 (CGN). The annual fund is used to start new community gardens, and to expand and enhance existing gardens within the City of Ottawa.
Groups seeking funding for their community garden projects (for both new and existing community gardens) are welcome to apply to the CGDF year-round. Applications are received on a rolling basis (no deadline).
In order to be eligible for funding, at least one member of the group must have attended a How to Start a Community Garden workshop (held by Just Food several times a year).
For more information on the Community Garden Development Fund please visit the CGDF page.
Soil Testing and Safety
Whether you are pursuing a community garden, or a home garden, one of the most important pieces to consider is the health and 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 (CGDF), or building a new garden on City land, the soil must be tested professionally. You are welcome to apply for funding for soil testing through the CGDF.
Just Food’s stance on raised garden beds:
- Soil health and regeneration is essential to climate change efforts and the future of agriculture
- If soil is viable and free of harmful contaminants, we will only endorse in-ground garden beds (EXCEPT for accessible raised beds)
If you are ineligible for funding or are starting a unique garden on your own (outside of the Community Gardening Network), please ensure that you read/consult our guide on soil testing.
These are the most common model of community gardens. Community gardens feature plots for individual rental, community plots that are grown for donation (Plant a Row, Share a Row) to local families or food cupboards, as well as communal plots like herb gardens or tea gardens that can be used by all gardeners or fellow community members. In order to apply for a plot with a community garden, contact them directly by clicking on the garden pin of your choice on the map below. Please note that many gardens have wait lists and many others will also be prioritizing community members in close proximity to the garden site. If there are no community gardens near your residency, or if they are all full, consider starting a new community garden.
These gardens are located at schools and are used by teachers and students as part of curricula. Parents of students may be able to be involved in the summer, but these are not gardens where community members can access individual plots. For more information on School Gardens please Visit the Canadian Organic Growers website for the Growing Up Organic (GUO) program.
Plant-a-Row Share-a-Row Gardens
These are gardens that are focused primarily on growing produce for donation. Many Community Gardens will feature some kind of PARSAR program, while some gardens are entirely devoted to donation. These gardens may be seeking volunteers to assist with food production, but do not offer individual plots. To get involved, choose the garden of your choice and email the Coordinator directly using the contact information provided on the Garden Map pin.
Children’s & Communal Gardens
Children’s gardens are spaces that are devoted to children’s learning, discovering and growing! Like donation gardens, children’s gardens do not generally feature individual plots for rental. Similarly, Communal Gardens are spaces where community members can grow food together & share in the harvest communally. Please contact email@example.com to learn more about how Children’s Gardens and/or Communal Community Gardens work. Explore the map below to find the closest one near you.