bloordale beach community gardens toronto

Toronto to destroy community garden that neighbourhood worked so hard to create

The newest community garden to spring up in Toronto has just been informed that it could be torn out and fenced off as soon as this weekend.

Bloordale Beach Community Gardens is the latest addition to Bloordale's "beach," a patch of land that's been used for creative purposes and just to hang out by those looking for a local outdoor space.

Since mid-May when the garden was started, around 15 people have been meeting there every Monday to learn about gardening and grow their own plants and vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce, with nearby homeowners and even the garden centre at Dufferin Mall offering supplies.

"Many of our gardeners live in buildings where they can't grow, so are happy to have access to the land," Laura Lebel-Pantazopoulos, who helped start the garden, tells blogTO.

"The gardeners receive the harvest, as well as anyone else that may come by and take some, and we welcome that for those who need it, and the rest of the harvest that gardeners don't take was to be donated to the local community fridge."

TDSB workers (the beach area shares space with school grounds) are supposed to be digging up the gardens, but have just managed to stall the process for now. 

The staff that were ordered to tear out the garden suggested fencing be moved around the garden to continue to allow access to it.

Construction on a new school is supposed to begin on the area in the fall, but as it's now mid-July the best option for the garden is to keep it around until then so crops can at least be harvested.

"We knew that construction of a new TDSB school would happen eventually, but it was uncertain when since it had been postponed for quite some time, the lot has been empty since 2019," says Lebel-Pantazopoulos.

"Some community members and even a Councillor was saying it would likely start in fall, so we thought we might be able to finish the growing season."

She was alerted on Thursday that TDSB staff were closing the fences that have been open for almost a year.

"I went over, and was told that they were being ordered to close the fences, to keep people out from causing trouble, e.g. drinking and partying, and that construction may begin sometime in August," says Lebel-Pantazopoulos.

"However, the staff were hesitant about digging the garden up, and the gate near the garden has been left open so far, but I was told by them that it might be removed and closed in by a giant wooden wall with security on Monday."

Councillor Ana Bailao's office addressed the issue in a Facebook group, saying they have forwarded the information to the local constituency assistant and suggesting forwarding to the local TDSB trustee as well.

"We would just ask that they communicate with us, and allow us access until construction begins. Even if it is in 30 days, or 60 days, we will be able to harvest much more of all the work we've done. All the unripe tomatoes and growing veggies," says Lebel-Pantazopoulos.

"Right before construction begins, we could transplant or donate the plants to the community or other local gardens. If they are worried about people misusing the entire site, they can fence off most of it, but leave the fence around the garden so we still have access."

Lead photo by

Bloordale Beach Community Gardens


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