The Carlington Summit

West End Community Ventures, a local non-profit community economic development program, has launched a project in Ottawa-Carleton to assist young people and seniors region-wide to sow, grow, and harvest backyard and container vegetable gardens this year.

The project, called Backyard Bonanza, provides free seed to prospective gardeners through local community and tenants' groups. West End Community Ventures has also secured expert volunteers to deliver workshops to participants and to be available for providing advice as the season progresses.

A limited number of containers are available for distribution to gardeners, especially those who do not have backyards. Container gardening allows growers to plant vegetable on their balconies, on patios, even in their living rooms or in outside areas where the soil will not support many crops.

Backyard Bonanza has enough seed for at least 350 individual gardens, depending on the crops. Donations of more containers - recyclable peat, plastic, or Styrofoam floats or cylindrical containers of all sizes - would be very helpful to the project. Volunteers will collect and sterilize these before re-distribution to new gardeners. The project grew from a small pilot initiative last year at Morrison Gardens. The project wanted to ensure opportunities for families with low or fixed incomes, and this focus remains the same for this year.

“We started late last year,” said Art Montague, Executive Director of West End Community Ventures, “but the enthusiasm of everyone involved, and some moderate success by the gardeners, has encouraged us to develop a larger project.”

“It's great for both kids and seniors,” Montague added, “because they don't have to go beyond their own backyards or balconies. Container gardening also means growers don't have to worry about soil quality because they have total control.”

“This year we have an excellent variety of seed, including five varieties of tomatoes, five lettuces, seven cucumbers, and even some watermelons.”

The project is structured to be delivered by local people to local people. West End Community Ventures asks only that the groups report after harvest, and that neither pesticides nor herbicides be used by growers.

More information may be obtained by calling 792-1644.