Transition Guelph’s GROW gardens had a productive first year with plans to expand and offer more opportunities for community members in 2017. GROW is a volunteer maintained, food garden located at Grace Community Church (http://www.gracecommunity.ca/). The garden is just north of Guelph on the Marden Road. Grace provided Transition Guelph with a rent free section of their property to develop a garden that can serve the local community.

The project began as part of the Back Share Sharing Program and Mike Barber has been coordinating the effort since its conception. According to Mike “the goal of the GROW garden is to provide healthy, organically grown vegetables and fruit for local individuals and well known emergency food cupboards and drop-in centres, while educating those who have an interest in growing their own food”.

GROW has managed, with limited funds, to create a 2500 square foot fruit and vegetable garden, plant their first row of fruit trees in an expanding orchard, plant a pollinator garden, and start a perennial vegetable area with rhubarb, asparagus and a few other plants.

This year GROW provided hundreds of pounds of food to a number of groups working with local food insecurity. In the process, GROW has been able to build community through gardening by providing space and resources to around a dozen volunteers. Alisha Arnold, Neighbourhood Support Worker for the Two Rivers Neighbourhood Group, wrote to acknowledge “the wonderful work The GROW gardens are doing. They have very dedicated volunteers working in unity to make great things happen against the fight for food security within the Guelph community. Organizations such as GROW are becoming more and more of a necessity to fight food security issues within many different communities.”

Next year, GROW plans on building an open air learning space and a tool shed/water catchment system. GROW is also expanding the garden’s footprint and orchard. According to Mike Barber ” the long term plan is to provide free workshops on everything from canning and seed saving to beekeeping. GROW volunteers have a wealth of knowledge and are happy and willing to share them time to help others gain new skills.” Volunteers are always welcome and their will opportunities for gardeners to help with the community plot as well as have space to grow their own vegetables. Look for more information about the GROW gardens in the spring of 2017.