Petition for Casa Loma community garden plants seed worth tending

Student-run garden would stock George Brown’s food bank as well as bring people together, supporters say

Next year, the back lawn at Casa Loma campus could be graced by a garden full of fresh fruits and vegetables, but only if students jump aboard to help grow the campaign.

Camila Lima, an architecture student at George Brown College (GBC), is spearheading a petition to start a community garden at Casa Loma on a portion of the green space facing Dartnell Ave. The initiative follows a GBC community garden located in Regent Park near St. James campus that operated in 2014 but was forced to close in 2015, as well as a small garden at Casa Loma that operated in 2015.

“Since that land belonged to the Student Association (SA), we were able to use it,” said Claire Whitehead, SA employee and food bank lead. Produce from the SA garden was distributed to students in 2016 through the food bank.

The Dialog is funded by the SA.

Whitehead had previously requested the use of the green space at Casa Loma for a garden, but as she described it, the request was denied by facilities management as that green space is allotted for student use.

Eric Schneider, the college’s campus manager at Casa Loma, clarified that “George Brown doesn’t have a lot of green space to utilize, and the addition of a garden could attract unwanted pests.” Schneider added that use of the green space is often requested for student use and must be available, and that the SA already has gardening space available to them.

As Whitehead pointed out, however, the current SA garden is too small to grow enough produce to meet food bank demand. And this year, she said that students have been asking her, “’where are those tomatoes, I want more of those tomatoes!’”

Another consideration is that Lima’s petition is a purely student-driven initiative, which may address concerns regarding the lawn being for student use. Whitehead emphasized that the petition is an original initiative of Lima’s.

“I’m really happy that Camila approached us about her idea for the garden on Dartnell because we did have that idea before, and that she’s a student, and I think the most important thing is that students are being involved in this,” she said.

If the petition receives a positive response from the school, a detailed plan outlining implementation, logistics, costs and other factors will be produced to aid in bringing the garden to life.

Lima, who has already collected pages of signatures petitioning for the garden, was hopeful that the garden will help to connect and meet the needs of everybody at George Brown.

“It would connect faculty, staff, students, Peerconnect, the SA, the Good Food Market and the food bank,” said Lima. “That’s what we’re trying to do, not just to have the community garden there, it would be something that really brings people there.”

Whitehead was similarly hopeful for what a community garden could do for those at George Brown.

“I think that providing more spaces of greenery and nature, where people work and live and go to school directly, is really important to make people remember the earth and the land and the things that we’re connected to, and how it serves us and we need to serve it.”

Lima is currently looking for an accessible location to host the petition so it is freely available for students to sign.

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Petition for Casa Loma community garden plants seed worth tending