There’s no grub at The Grub Club, but work continues at Ken Soble Tower. Those are highlights of a late afternoon walk around my neighbourhood, the North End of Hamilton.
The Grub Club is a community garden located at the Compass community health clinic. Raised beds of heights that are useable for gardeners in wheel chairs look abandoned right now. Last year’s crops and new weeds fill the planter boxes. Normally new crops would be going in, seedlings poking up, cold tolerant lettuces ready to pick for a nutritious salad.
Community gardens all over Ontario are in the same shape. They have been deemed as recreation, and are off limits to the people who use them. They are not recreation, they are practical, economical, and important ways people grow food and yes sometimes flowers. I really don’t know many people who call gardening a recreation, exercise and stress relief yes but recreation like a game of soccer-no.
Community gardens are closed because of the very important physical distancing measures we all should be following. But many community gardens are fenced, and they usually are spaced so that keeping a distance would be easy.
Gardeners are not a rowdy bunch, they could follow the rules, and the community gardens are needed. In the North End, there are many recent immigrants, and many who live on little, the gardens fill a need. Producing vegetables and fruit in community gardens also helps to keep people out of grocery stores. Perishable produce is the one item that cannot be stockpiled.
Many are writing to the province and city council urging that community gardens be taken out of the No Go zone. The issue has been added to the agenda of the April 22 city council meeting.
The province needs to open the community gardens. No doubt they lacked a blueprint when deciding what is essential or not, but they should also be flexible enough to make changes based on evidence.
While the gardens are idle, work is allowed to continue on the Ken Soble apartment tower, also in the North End. After many years of decline, the City Housing building is being renovated to modern standards. When finished it will have 146 affordable apartments. It’s understandable why the province deems this essential.
Who knows what Hamilton will look like when the Covid crisis is over and life returns to a new normal. I fear for the downtown core where there may be many empty storefronts and lost businesses. All the more reason to take the wraps off community gardens, and encourage gardening everywhere.
The miracle a seed delivers is essential.