By Linda Benson

Barton Village has so much to offer just lately, each time I go out on my walkabout; I meet new and interesting individuals. I love hearing about their visions, not only for their own business but for our community.

Last week, on one of my daily walks, I took the back route, from Wentworth, along Birge and to Wellington, back on to Barton.

There had been a few people living in tents along Birge Street, for the last couple of months, however they have since moved on, perhaps because they were camping on CN property, or perhaps of the new City encampment initiative, I am not sure.   I hope they are doing ok.  The reason I mention this is because one of these people was growing tomatoes in huge containers, which I was fascinated by. She also had some summer flower pots and a few other plants that I did not recognize.  But I can honestly say her growing technique put me to shame.  Note to self, get cracking on my own garden for next year!

As I was sauntering along, wondering how to start my own garden, I walked by the Hamilton General Hospital, and there I saw the most amazing community garden, (on the Birge street entrance)

It was meant to be!  Working in the garden that day was a lovely young lady called Cher (yes, named after the one and only).  I asked if I could take photos and try one of the tomatoes.  The most delicious yellow cherry tomato I have ever tasted!!  We talked for a while about my lack of gardening skills and that I would love to have a garden to share with others.   Cher told me that this garden is to be used for those who need nourishment, and for those, like myself, who would be willing to work as a volunteer, from one hour a week up.  This garden is flourishing well under the loving hands of those who tend it.  From much needed “weeding” to replanting, from watering to harvesting and of course, the general upkeep.  Although the garden is on the grounds of the General hospital, it is just one of the many community gardens throughout Hamilton, known as The Victory Gardens.  What an amazing initiative, basically on our doorstep and right at our finger tips (pun intended!!).

Cher mentioned to me that there is a need for Saturday morning volunteers to work in the green house too.  I thought that interesting and something I could easily do.  Although Cher promised to send me some more information on how to apply as a volunteer or to learn more about these community gardens, I have yet to hear back from her, but when I do, I will update you with the information.

Here’s a snippet of information, I took from the HHS, pubic, website, July 06, 2017

Together We Grow

Hamilton Health Sciences’ Hamilton General Hospital (HGH) and Population Health Research Institute (PHRI), have partnered with Hamilton Victory Gardens to build a community vegetable garden on the downtown hospital campus.

HGH and PHRI have come together with a mutual goal of giving back to the community. Since patients at the Regional Rehabilitation Centre had previously participated in sessions with Hamilton Victory Gardens, it prompted the idea of modifying the original garden plans to make it accessible and functional for patients.

“We are so thrilled about the new community garden,” says Kathie Elstone, therapeutic recreationist at the Regional Rehabilitation Centre. “Whether our patients are gardeners or not, regardless of the rehabilitation required, we’ll be able to use the garden to help with recovery. Since gardening is a functional activity, it can encourage a patient in a wheelchair to stand or a patient with a prosthetic leg practice their balance. These are just some of the many benefits.

Hamilton Victory Gardens is a volunteer based program whereby unused urban areas around Hamilton are converted into gardens to grow produce for local food banks and meal programs. Since it began in 2011, over 175,000 pounds of fresh produce have been harvested from 15 garden sites and donated to 13 organizations and programs including Good Shepherd, Mission Services, Neighbour to Neighbour, and Living Rock. Always looking to build more gardens, the organization was very receptive to the idea of building on the HGH Campus, especially given the potential for therapeutic benefits.

“we’ll be able to use the garden to help with recovery.”

The HGH Campus Community Garden consists of 11 garden beds at a variety of heights to accommodate working from a wheel chair as well as standing. While Hamilton Victory Gardens assisted with the building of the garden and provided a planting plan, PHRI has set up volunteer sessions available to all campus staff who will ensure the regular maintenance over time.

I implore you to take a walk through the community garden and the grounds of the HGH as a whole.