'Food forest' looks to expand in Victoria Park

News Sep 18, 2017 by Bill Jackson Kitchener Post

Those living in the Victoria Park area know it’s a magnet for the broader community, but a “food forest” that’s sprouted up at the corner of Jubilee Drive and Theresa Street is meant mainly for the neighbourhood.

“We share our park with the city and the region, so we’re trying to sort of claim a space that’s the neighbourhood's space — more of a space where the residents can connect,” said Melissa Bowman,” president of the Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association.

Whereas community gardens are usually comprised of individual plots, a food forest is one big garden that’s accessible to all, she explained.

Anyone is welcome to enjoy the goji berries or stinging nettle, which yields therapeutic benefits if used to make tea, but can be painful to touch if you're not careful.

“We do have some carrots,” Bowman said, also listing raspberries, rhubarb and chives as some of the more mainstream offerings.

But the goal is to make it more of a meeting place, with seating and community information boards.

Possible expansion is just one of several projects being proposed by the neighbourhood association that’s aiming to take advantage of placemaking grants announced by the city earlier this year.

“We’re actually in the process of really trying to get the word out that there’s big dollars available for them to do some cool stuff,” said Josh Joseph, supervisor of the city’s neighbourhood development office.

The deadline for placemaking grants has been extended by three weeks to Oct. 23.

Residents, community groups and businesses can still apply for one grant of up to $20,000 and three grants of up to $6,000. There’s also a grant of up to $10,000 for businesses and retail centres specifically. More information can be found at lovemyhood.ca.

Other initiatives already underway with funding announced under the city’s neighbourhood strategy earlier this year include a picnic shelter in Cherry Park, a painted crosswalk on Wilson Ave., a community garden in Stanley Park and programs for seniors and youth in the Chandler-Mowatt and Eastwood neighbourhoods, respectively.

“We have groups pursuing mural and art opportunities,” Joseph noted.

“There’s definitely lots going and I think the more projects that come out and get reported on, the more people might think ‘Oh, I can do that on my street or in my backyard.”

The Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association established an “action plan team” and hosted a street party to come up with a list of seven projects that was whittled to four, before being put to the community as part of an online survey.

“So we’re just looking to neighbours to see if we’re on the right track,” Bowman said.

Joseph said consensus building is an important part of the process. Prior to project approval city staff looks to ensure nearby property owners are supportive.

Legal parameters and the need for permits are also part of staff’s checklist, however the whole process is ultimately designed to make things easier for people, Joseph said.

A staff contact is assigned to every project.

“We’ll work with you, we’ll help you, we’ll walk you through the process. There’s a back-and-forth,” he said.

Among other things, the Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association is also looking to paint a crosswalk on West Avenue, a main thoroughfare for kids on their way to JF Carmichael Public School.

Partnering with the city on urban forestry initiatives is another possible option as Mother Nature in the form of ice storms and the emerald ash borer, along with and Father Time, have wreaked havoc on trees in recent years.

“I know in our neighbourhood, especially on my street, there are a number of trees that are nearing the end of their life,” Bowman said, “and once you lose them it takes a long time for them to get to the point they are now.”

Planting new ones could have a huge impact, she believes.

“That can really transform what a neighbourhood looks like, so we’re not left with these streets that are all losing their trees all at one time.”

People can visit lovemyhood.ca for more information on how to develop a project in their neighbourhood.


'Food forest' looks to expand in Victoria Park

City extends deadline for placemaking grants to Oct. 23

News Sep 18, 2017 by Bill Jackson Kitchener Post

Those living in the Victoria Park area know it’s a magnet for the broader community, but a “food forest” that’s sprouted up at the corner of Jubilee Drive and Theresa Street is meant mainly for the neighbourhood.

“We share our park with the city and the region, so we’re trying to sort of claim a space that’s the neighbourhood's space — more of a space where the residents can connect,” said Melissa Bowman,” president of the Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association.

Whereas community gardens are usually comprised of individual plots, a food forest is one big garden that’s accessible to all, she explained.

Anyone is welcome to enjoy the goji berries or stinging nettle, which yields therapeutic benefits if used to make tea, but can be painful to touch if you're not careful.

“We do have some carrots,” Bowman said, also listing raspberries, rhubarb and chives as some of the more mainstream offerings.

But the goal is to make it more of a meeting place, with seating and community information boards.

Possible expansion is just one of several projects being proposed by the neighbourhood association that’s aiming to take advantage of placemaking grants announced by the city earlier this year.

“We’re actually in the process of really trying to get the word out that there’s big dollars available for them to do some cool stuff,” said Josh Joseph, supervisor of the city’s neighbourhood development office.

The deadline for placemaking grants has been extended by three weeks to Oct. 23.

Residents, community groups and businesses can still apply for one grant of up to $20,000 and three grants of up to $6,000. There’s also a grant of up to $10,000 for businesses and retail centres specifically. More information can be found at lovemyhood.ca.

Other initiatives already underway with funding announced under the city’s neighbourhood strategy earlier this year include a picnic shelter in Cherry Park, a painted crosswalk on Wilson Ave., a community garden in Stanley Park and programs for seniors and youth in the Chandler-Mowatt and Eastwood neighbourhoods, respectively.

“We have groups pursuing mural and art opportunities,” Joseph noted.

“There’s definitely lots going and I think the more projects that come out and get reported on, the more people might think ‘Oh, I can do that on my street or in my backyard.”

The Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association established an “action plan team” and hosted a street party to come up with a list of seven projects that was whittled to four, before being put to the community as part of an online survey.

“So we’re just looking to neighbours to see if we’re on the right track,” Bowman said.

Joseph said consensus building is an important part of the process. Prior to project approval city staff looks to ensure nearby property owners are supportive.

Legal parameters and the need for permits are also part of staff’s checklist, however the whole process is ultimately designed to make things easier for people, Joseph said.

A staff contact is assigned to every project.

“We’ll work with you, we’ll help you, we’ll walk you through the process. There’s a back-and-forth,” he said.

Among other things, the Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association is also looking to paint a crosswalk on West Avenue, a main thoroughfare for kids on their way to JF Carmichael Public School.

Partnering with the city on urban forestry initiatives is another possible option as Mother Nature in the form of ice storms and the emerald ash borer, along with and Father Time, have wreaked havoc on trees in recent years.

“I know in our neighbourhood, especially on my street, there are a number of trees that are nearing the end of their life,” Bowman said, “and once you lose them it takes a long time for them to get to the point they are now.”

Planting new ones could have a huge impact, she believes.

“That can really transform what a neighbourhood looks like, so we’re not left with these streets that are all losing their trees all at one time.”

People can visit lovemyhood.ca for more information on how to develop a project in their neighbourhood.


'Food forest' looks to expand in Victoria Park

City extends deadline for placemaking grants to Oct. 23

News Sep 18, 2017 by Bill Jackson Kitchener Post

Those living in the Victoria Park area know it’s a magnet for the broader community, but a “food forest” that’s sprouted up at the corner of Jubilee Drive and Theresa Street is meant mainly for the neighbourhood.

“We share our park with the city and the region, so we’re trying to sort of claim a space that’s the neighbourhood's space — more of a space where the residents can connect,” said Melissa Bowman,” president of the Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association.

Whereas community gardens are usually comprised of individual plots, a food forest is one big garden that’s accessible to all, she explained.

Anyone is welcome to enjoy the goji berries or stinging nettle, which yields therapeutic benefits if used to make tea, but can be painful to touch if you're not careful.

“We do have some carrots,” Bowman said, also listing raspberries, rhubarb and chives as some of the more mainstream offerings.

But the goal is to make it more of a meeting place, with seating and community information boards.

Possible expansion is just one of several projects being proposed by the neighbourhood association that’s aiming to take advantage of placemaking grants announced by the city earlier this year.

“We’re actually in the process of really trying to get the word out that there’s big dollars available for them to do some cool stuff,” said Josh Joseph, supervisor of the city’s neighbourhood development office.

The deadline for placemaking grants has been extended by three weeks to Oct. 23.

Residents, community groups and businesses can still apply for one grant of up to $20,000 and three grants of up to $6,000. There’s also a grant of up to $10,000 for businesses and retail centres specifically. More information can be found at lovemyhood.ca.

Other initiatives already underway with funding announced under the city’s neighbourhood strategy earlier this year include a picnic shelter in Cherry Park, a painted crosswalk on Wilson Ave., a community garden in Stanley Park and programs for seniors and youth in the Chandler-Mowatt and Eastwood neighbourhoods, respectively.

“We have groups pursuing mural and art opportunities,” Joseph noted.

“There’s definitely lots going and I think the more projects that come out and get reported on, the more people might think ‘Oh, I can do that on my street or in my backyard.”

The Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association established an “action plan team” and hosted a street party to come up with a list of seven projects that was whittled to four, before being put to the community as part of an online survey.

“So we’re just looking to neighbours to see if we’re on the right track,” Bowman said.

Joseph said consensus building is an important part of the process. Prior to project approval city staff looks to ensure nearby property owners are supportive.

Legal parameters and the need for permits are also part of staff’s checklist, however the whole process is ultimately designed to make things easier for people, Joseph said.

A staff contact is assigned to every project.

“We’ll work with you, we’ll help you, we’ll walk you through the process. There’s a back-and-forth,” he said.

Among other things, the Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association is also looking to paint a crosswalk on West Avenue, a main thoroughfare for kids on their way to JF Carmichael Public School.

Partnering with the city on urban forestry initiatives is another possible option as Mother Nature in the form of ice storms and the emerald ash borer, along with and Father Time, have wreaked havoc on trees in recent years.

“I know in our neighbourhood, especially on my street, there are a number of trees that are nearing the end of their life,” Bowman said, “and once you lose them it takes a long time for them to get to the point they are now.”

Planting new ones could have a huge impact, she believes.

“That can really transform what a neighbourhood looks like, so we’re not left with these streets that are all losing their trees all at one time.”

People can visit lovemyhood.ca for more information on how to develop a project in their neighbourhood.