The Community Gardening Network (CGN) is a constantly growing and expanding Network of gardens across Ottawa. We are thrilled to be able 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. Here are some first steps:
Attend a How to Start a Community Garden Workshop
The first step towards starting a community garden in Ottawa is to attend 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. Once they are scheduled, they will be posted in our newsletter & on the website in the “Newsbites” section.
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 land
If you are interested in starting a community garden on City-owned land (in a public park, at a community centre, etc.) please get in touch with us first. We are officially designated as the City’s lead coordinator of community gardens, and we work directly with the City to approve gardens on City land. We can tell you whether or not a garden is possible on the City-owned land you are interested in, and our direct access to contacts at the City will save you a lot of time!
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 $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, the Ottawa City Council passed a motion to increase the CGDF by $15,000 annually until the end of 2018.
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.
A Word on Soil Testing & 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. If you are ineligible for funding or are starting a unique garden on your own (outside of the Community Garden Network), please ensure that you read/consult our guide on soil testing.