All gardeners at Oak Street Community Garden agree: Tim has the answers. When I attended the garden’s annual potluck on May 30th, everyone I met told me to interview Tim. Even garden coordinators asked, “Have you talked to Tim?”
Tim Lyon is Oak Street’s trusted site mentor and coordinator. He’s worked to develop the garden since it’s inception. “In 2008 I was looking for a place to set up a garden,” Tim tells me. “I ended up responding to an ad looking for a Market
As a Market Gardener, Tim runs Oak Street’s Market Training garden. “It’s an example of what a garden can look like,” he says. “It’s a great model for the community.” Based on members’ response to Tim, it’s clear they turn to him, and his garden, for guidance.
Snapping photos of Tim’s garden, I spot a student ride in on a bicycle. I do a double take. I’ve never seen a girl my age at a community garden before.
“I’m Meg,” she says to me, smiling. “I’ve been a WWOOFer here for two years.” WWOOFingstands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, where participants (affectionately known as WWOOFers) can work on a farm in exchange for food, board, and more.
Why does Meg WWOOF? “I’ve always liked food,” she says with a laugh. “I used to be a pastry chef, but I didn’t like being inside.”
As a chef Meg learned a lot about where we grow and get food. “At work we had our own herb garden in the back. And every week beekeepers gave us local honey,” Meg tells me. “I began to understand the importance of growing your own food, and supporting local farmers.”
Her comments spark a conversation about global food production. Meg and I agree we use far too many resources to grow and transport food. But how do we reduce our resource use, I ask her. “The first step is to educate people,” Meg replies. “It’s so important to know where our food is coming from.”
My last question for Meg: what can students do? We don’t have the time or money to maintain a large garden. “Start small. Grow in any space you can,” she tells me. “You can grow more than you think in pots.”
I know for a fact Meg is right: I’ve started growing tomatoes, peas and beans in pots in my student house. And it’s cheap! Seeds, soil and pots are all available at the dollar store if any newbie (like me) wants to try their hand at gardening. It’s fun and sustainable – I recommend it to any student looking for a hobby this summer!
Oak Street Gardens is a place for everyone and anyone to grow food for themselves and others and to learn about food gardening. The garden includes allotment plots, tasting gardens, a donation garden, programming plots, and a market-training garden.
Number of allotments: 50
Location: Greenspace where Oak Street bends near the end of Victoria Street
Contact: email@example.com or 613-547-4812