Sustainable housing and real estate in Kitchener-Waterloo Region

April 9, 2010, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Judita Makos, Sustainability

Brownfield properties have always suffered from negative perception. They’re considered to be contaminated, difficult to deal with and fraught with delays, high costs, and red tape.

Time and familiarity is needed for this to change. The push for urban intensification in recent years, and new programs and technologies  are already making maNy stakeholders take a closer look at the development potential of brownfields.

Major projects like FILMPORT in Toronto and the Halifax Seawall redevelopment show what can be done to revitalize brownfields.

Term “brownfield” covers a wide variety of sites. According to NRTEE  (National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy)  brownfields fall into three categories;

  • Top tier about 15 to 20 per cent of brownfields . These sites’ market value far exceeds the cost of remediation, and these sites are usually redeveloped quickly.
  • Middle tier – 60 to 70 per cent . Cost of clean up and the potential value are high. These sites present a great deal of development potential, but are too expensive or risky to clean-up. This category stands to benefit most from incentives or regulatory changes that could tip the balance between cost and profit to encourage development.
  • Bottom tier – 15 to 20 per cent; these are sites where cleanup cost would far outweigh the value of the land after cleanup. These sites have few development prospects.

Well-located brownfields often have a lot of development potential. Besides being closer to the city core than any new development could possibly be, these sites are usually already served by infrastructure such as utilities and roads – saving the need to build these from scratch.  It also saves greenfield land on a city’s outskirts. In fact, it’s estimated that every brownfield redevelopment saves an area four-and-half  times larger from being developed in suburbs.

Brownfields redevelopment can also have a hugely positive impact on the neighbouring communities.  Sites tend to be in the older parts of cities. Experience has shown that redeveloping a brownfield reinvigorates  the surrounding communities, creating more economic and social activity in the area.

by Judita Makos

More information about brownfields in Ontario

Sewage Treatment, Containment and Distribution
March 10, 2010, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Sustainability | Tags: , , , , ,

reprinted from Earthship Biotecture.

We must become more aware of where our sewage goes.

Earthships contain, use and reuse all household sewage in indoor and outdoor treatment cells.

This results in food production and landscaping with no pollution of aquifers.

Toilets flush with treated gray water that does not smell.

Containment, Treatment & Distribution

The concept used for containment, treatment and distribution of sewage-water is based on and draws information from the wetlands concept which has long been used in exterior applications for thousands of years by humans and nature.

The Earthship sewage system differs from the wetlands approach in that it primarily treats the gray water inside the building and the sewage from the toilet outside of the building, both in smaller areas. Greywater is the used water after all receptacles except the toilet.

All household sewage is used & reused in the interior and exterior planters, called botanical cells.

Earthship greywater planter

Use & Re-use

Water is used to carry away our household sewage in a conventional way such as bathing, washing dishes, and for the toilet. The sewage-water, also called gray water, is used and cleaned for a second time in interior botanical cells. The flush toilet is the third use of the water. After the toilet, the water is contained and treated, and used a fourth time in exterior botanical cells.

Phoenix Earthship Kitchen

Interior Botanical Cell

The Earthship gray water system has been researched and developed by Earthship Biotecture for over 20 years. This system allows for the need of far less water than is conventionally assumed.

Gray Water Organizing Module (gWOM)

The gWOM pumps the treated water, which is now gray water to the toilet to flush.
The gWOM is part of our retrofit package for your existing home. Ask us about it: 575-751-0462 or
Click here to use a web form to send a message

Greywater Organizing Module

Exterior Botanical Cell

The effort to contain the outdoor system rather than letting it leach into the earth is much more realistic and manageable because of its lower volume. It should also be noted that one or many more contained cells can be added to the outdoor system if necessary. This simply adds to the controlled landscaping of the home.

The objective is to eliminate the need for public sewage systems and un-contained septic systems that pollute the earth, while getting multiple uses out of all water collected in the catchwater systems.

For the purpose of satisfying convention, the Earthship Sewage system is set up (via valving) to flow entirely into the conventional septic tank and on to a conventional leach-field. The Earthship water system is not, therefore, in place of but in addition to convention.

Blackwater planter overview

Blackwater planter overview

The path of WASTE water in an Earthship:

  • After water is used in sinks, showers and bat-tubs, it then drains into linear biologically developed interior gray water treatment and containment systems (gray water planters).
  • Clean looking (but not drinkable) water is piped to flush the toilet (toilets) with.
  • Next the water goes outside to a conventional septic tank that is solar heated with a glazed south side to enhance the anaerobic process. This unit functions like a regular septic tank (only better) with a line out to a conventional leach-field.
  • We add a preferred but optional line out that goes in to rubber lined exterior botanical cell(s) (size and quantity varies) that are constructed very similar to the interior gray water treatment and containment planter. This facilitates total containment of remaining effluent and directs its use toward exterior landscaping. After this use the water again tests below measurable nitrate levels
Also available are dry, Solar Toilets. These act like composting toilets, but they admit the sun to increase effectiveness. Construction drawings are available.

We live in a time when many parts of our planet are experiencing water shortages. The volume of water on this planet is finite whilre human population increases. As we gauge the depletion of our aquifers and the increase in population, we are able to pedict serious water shortages in the near future.

We must begin now… learning to harvest water in each individual home. We must use this water many times before putting it back into the earth. When we do put it back, it must be in a form that works with existing nurturing forces and phenomena of the earth.

To further compound the water problem on this planet, we have polluted and contaminated most of our easily accessible surface waters and are beginning to contaminate the more difficult to access aquifers beneath the surface of the our planet. This contamination happens because of the way conventional sewage systems operate.

Facing the Facts

  • If there are energy shortages, individuals will have water problems.
  • If there is ecological damage, individuals will have water problems.
  • If there are economic crisis, individuals will have water problems.
  • If there are computer glitches, individuals will have water problems.
  • If there is political turmoil, individuals will have water problems.
  • If there is war, individuals will have water problems.

Almost anything that happens in the future can result in questionable availability of fresh water. This is not just an environmental problem. The continued pollution of the atmosphere, the surface and subsurface of the earth is not the only cause for alarm about availability of fresh water. Water availability to individuals is dependent on every other social system being in place, stable, health and at peace. It is inevitable that we will experience failure of one or more of these systems at some point in the future.

We are simply adapting our needs to the already existing activities of the planet.

Why pipe water long distances from a centralized community water system, or from an expensive well that needs significant electrical power, depletes aquifers and lowers the water table, when water fall from the sky?

Why have a corporate or political “middle man” between us and our energy needs? our vessel (home) must be designed to sail with the forces that exist beyond human control and exploitation.

An understanding of mechanical systems for most humans is limited to what is within reach of their fingertips. It is understood that when you flip a switch on the wall, a light comes on. when you turn on the faucet, hot water comes out. When you pull the handle on the toilet, it flushes. Little though is given to where the electricity comes from or what kind of nuclear waste was produced to generate it. how many of us even know where the power plant is that supplies our power. Few people ever wonder which water table is depleted to bring them water and what chemicals have been added to it. Where does the sewage go after it is flushed and which rivers and lakes are polluted by it?

Humans need comfortable temperatures, light, electricity, hot water, food, sewage treatment, etc. These necessities are all available within the framework of a certain “rhythm” in the Earthship. The more we are able to align our priorities and needs with the prevailing rhythms of the planet, the easier and less expensive (both in terms of economics and ecology) they will be to obtain.

If our lifestyles can conform more to the patterns of the planet than to our socioeconomic system, we can reduce the stress on both ourselves and the planet. This is easier said than done due to the “reality” and the “gravity” of mortgage payments, utility bills and the generally high cost of eating and living. Most of us have no choice. We have to be places at certain times looking certain ways in order to make the money needed to make those payments. However, many people have built Earthships themselves and ended up with little to no mortgage payment. They also have little or no utility bills and their ability to grow food year-round inside the Earthship has greatly affected what they have to spend on packaged, processed foods.

The condition of our planet tells us we must now begin to take responsibility for what happens beyond the reach of our fingertips. We must begin to reconsider the source of these utilities, our access to them, and how we dispose of the waste produced. The mechanical systems of the Earthship confront these issues directly. We call this direct living. Source, access and destination are all contained within the Earthship, within the reach of our fingertips. There is no mystery involved in Earthship electricity. There is no unknown source of water. There is no magical black hole that sucks up all our sewage. Instead, we work in harmony with the earth to deal with these issues – taking what it has to give us directly and giving back what it wants to receive. With this harmony ringing in our minds we evolve the Earthship Systems.

Rebuilding in Haiti using Sustainable Housing (Earthships)
January 29, 2010, 5:21 am
Filed under: Rebecca Sargent, Sustainability | Tags: , , ,

This is the best idea I have seen for rebuilding Haiti so I have decided to pass it on in hopes that the organizers can reach their funding goals and provide the maximum assistance to those in need.

Those at Earthship Biotechture intend on teaching the people to build their own sustainable housing (earthship technologies) using locally found materials.

Currently the organizers are in need of:

– Camping food, Camping Gear
– Money
– Vaccines
– Connections with people and organizations in Haiti to partner with.

Please check out their website and pass this information on to everyone you can!

Thinking of those in Haiti. Our hearts and minds are with you.

The accidental environmentalist.
September 13, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Rebecca Sargent, Sustainability | Tags: , ,

Now you may be surprised to hear this, considering that I write a blog about sustainable housing, but I do not consider myself an environmentalist. I do not feel like I am one of the green, tree-hugging folk.

I do live what most would consider a fairly green and simple life. I haven’t really been shopping in a few years now, aside from groceries and the occasional need for office supplies for my business (mostly 100% recycled paper and re-filling the ink cartridges in my printer). I think very carefully before I make a purchase and try to research its impact whenever possible. My clothes are all second hand from the thrift store or handmade creations by friends. I live in a very minimum square footage, use all non-toxic cleaners (thank goodness for baking soda), and take great measures to reduce my daily energy usage. I grow some vegetables and herbs for the fresh goodies through the harvest and to preserve to last me as far as I can get through the winter. Aside from chocolate (which I can’t imagine ever giving up!), I try to eat mostly a localvore diet, although I’m not extremely strict on this. I dream of the day when I will be able to live in a fully self-sustaining home, off the grid, growing all my own food myself.

So why do I write about sustainable housing, and why do I seem to care about environmental issues so much?

I’ve always considered myself a fairly good person. It has never been my intention nor want to cause another being harm and I have always been concerned with human rights and freedoms. It is with this purpose that my so-called “environmentalism” came to be.

I was once a fairly heavy consumer. I desperately wanted the latest and greatest, and coveted these goodies with great lust. I dreamt of a high-tech, gadget-filled existence and thought the tree-huggers to be unrealistic idealists with their head in the clouds.

That all began to change– slowly, but surely–after extensive world travels and years at university studying about global affairs began to really open my eyes. I read (and write) constantly about human rights and have for at least most of the past decade. I dream of a day where the basic human rights (you know, like those ones agreed upon by many nations–including our own–through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights over 60 years ago) are actually ratified and guaranteed by the governments of the world. A world where everyone has the basics they need to live a healthy and happy existence.

For me, environmentalism coincides with this dream. Pollution, in my opinion, violates my human rights. It affects my health and well-being and the health and well-being of my family. I should not have to endure a barrage of toxins if I don’t want to do so willingly.

Unfortunately, we have little choice in the matter. Our air and water is filled with toxic pollution and it is only getting worse. In some places, people are experiencing severe health problems due to the high toxicity levels in the air, ground or water. Their right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and their families is being infringed upon by polluters.

High levels of consumerism are having an immense impact on pollution levels. We live in a society where we are expected to shop. We are expected to have a home computer and a cell phone and a big screen TV. We are taught from a young age to value material things. Unfortunately, this value for the material happens to contradict with many people’s value of doing no harm. It was this contradiction that led to my gradual life change.

Not only does the need for the latest-and-greatest cause tremendous pollution, which will harm the planet and the beings living on it, but many of these latest-and-greatest are also incredibly human rights abusing in their production. Now, I’m not just talking about sweat-shops, even thought almost every store in North America probably has at least one product created by sweat-shop labour. The abuses go much deeper.

Think about where your products came from and what it took for them to get from raw materials in and on the ground to your home. They have probably traveled hundreds if not thousands of miles, creating mass amounts of pollution along the way only to wind up in a landfill at the end of it.

If the product has metal components, it is possible that this metal was mined by slaves and you would never even know it. It is quite possible that it also provided financing for a murderous warlord to continue warring. For example, you’d be hard-pressed to find an electronic product such as a cellphone or laptop computer that hasn’t helped in some way to finance civil war or helped to continue the rape, torture or death of innocent civilians.

It is with this in mind, that I began to look into what I was consuming, why I was consuming it and how it was impacting the world. It is with this in mind that I became an “accidental environmentalist”. I started searching out the sources of the products and services I was using daily and whenever I found one that didn’t meet my ethical standards– I stopped using it. As I stopped using all the products and services to such a high degree– I noticed that I didn’t need or miss them after they were gone for a while. As I started looking into environmental issues more and how they were affecting the people of this planet, I started reading about the different renewable and sustainable technologies that exist. I starting thinking– why aren’t we using these? They make so much sense, not only from an environmental standpoint, but they are also more cost effective and efficient.

Reversing or slowing climate change has never been a prime goal for me. Not infringing on other people’s human rights, however, IS.

The next time you think about going green, think about this. Probably the number one greenest thing you can do for this planet and the beings living on it is to STOP CONSUMING SO MUCH STUFF!!

Everything you consume had to be created. It had to use goods mined or extracted from the earth, causing pollution and depleting often non-renewable resources, and is perhaps even using slave labour or causing war and death along the way. When you throw it away at the end of its usage it will probably wind up in a landfill leaching into our water supplies. So think before you buy– do I actually need this? Chances are, you probably don’t, and after a while, you probably won’t even miss it.

Visions of integrative-sustainable housing.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been dreaming of building my own earthship on a large acreage (enough for a woodlot, orchard and gardens)  for many years now. I think about this all the time and hopefully someday in the no-so-distant future it will become a reality. I love growing vegetables/gardening, and definitely love the idea of living in a home that can provide me with self-sustaining renewable supplies of food, energy and water.

Integrative Sustainable city

I also have dreams of a more integrative city in the future. A city where green spaces collide with living spaces and buildings can “live” on their own. Buildings that can collect and store energy, collect and clean water, and even grow food for their occupants, not to mention help clean the air.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe climate change is “hype”– these types of building and designs make sense in many other ways. In a world where security is an issue and people are told to create “emergency preparedness kits” for their homes, it makes good sense to not have to rely on a grid that could be possibly unreliable. It also saves money, create oxygen and creates a more natural looking setting.

It makes good sense to have a way to feed cities within the cities. This ensures that in case of emergency there are still food sources available to the population. It’s also much, much cheaper to grow your own produce from seeds than buying it and it tastes so much better because it hasn’t ripened on a truck or sat in storage at some facility before being shipped. There are even services out there now in some cities that you can hire to come and tend your vegetable garden for you if you don’t want to grow them yourself. They can be grown on roofs, sidewalks, and any space big enough to hold a pot. The spaces on roofs and boulevards can also be rented out to others for them to grow produce or flowers.

city gardening

It makes good sense to have energy available on a renewable individual basis without having to be attached to some massive grid. Again it’s cheaper– much, much, much cheaper. Installation costs can be returned on utility savings in short periods of time and if you are collecting enough energy, you never pay for utility costs again. You only have to worry about maintenance and replacing the systems every 15-25 years. Again– in the case of emergency– you still have power. Makes sense.

reed bed waste treatment

It makes good sense to have a way to clean and collect water. We all need water to live, and we use a LOT of it. There are many creative ways to reduce, collect, treat and clean water that have been converted to home use and could be done on a much larger scale. Reed bed waste water systems,  for example, have very low operational costs compared to other types of waste treatment options because they use gravity for the main pumping instead of coal-burning fuel. They also look better from the outside, because instead of a massive treatment facility spewing out sludge there is only a space full of plants (creating more green space).

green roof

The city I imagine uses space wisely– more efficiently and thoughtfully. It integrates and maximizes spaces like the roofs and walls of buildings in innovative ways. It diversifies the usages of the land– combining retail space with business space, with residential space, with farm space, with industrial space, with recreational space, and making them all work together, reducing the need to travel for daily activities.

green wall

These types of initiatives are starting to happen all around us. The more we invest and use these types of systems– the better they will become. Ontario has started to implement Smart Growth policies in an attempt to redevelop the land to help prevent urban sprawl.

sustainable city growth

So let’s start creating energy, creating useful space and creating clean air instead of using energy, destroying useful space and polluting the air. It just makes sense!

Some criticism of sustainable technologies.

Sustainable technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal heating are just really starting to take off. The more these type of technologies are used and become popular, the more efficient they can become, allowing  different and new types of technology to emerge onto the marketplace.

There are criticisms of many of the systems and those who use them will surely tell you they are not without their flaws. Some of the first earthships created, for example, were designed in such a way that they produced excessive, unlivable amounts of heat. They had to be tweaked and perfected in such a way that would address the problems so that they could be livable. As a result, newer earthships are better designed and more comfortable to live in. They needed to be used, tested and tried to even discover what the real problems were to be able to even begin to address them.

Tree hugger

Renewable energy and sustainable technology is really only at its infancy. We are just beginning to realize the true potentials and possibilities that are out there. The best is yet to come.

One of the biggest problems I see with many of the renewable energy technologies (such as solar, geothermal and wind turbines) being truly sustainable is the resources that they require in batteries or heavily mined materials to manufacture them. All batteries require mined metals and minerals that are non-renewable and incredibly waste intensive. Many of the technologies are also incredibly waste intensive during their manufacture, distribution or at the end of their lifecycle, as they wind up in landfills leaching toxins into the garbage soup that may eventually find its way into our groundwater.

Sustainable means thinking about the entire lifecycle of a product, not just how much energy it will save during its usage. How much energy went into its manufacture? How much waste was created? How far did it travel? Where will it go when its done being useful? Will it wind up in a landfill, or can it be recycled? I always like to add to this, was it created/distributed/disposed in a manner respectful of all human rights, because to me, this is also part of being truly sustainable. If a product was manufactured using slave labour or disposed of in a way that will toxify other human beings– it is definitely not sustainable.

So what’s best to use? Which technologies are best? How should we live our lives in the most sustainable way?

There’s no magic answer. Mostly, because the way the world is set up right now, it’s next to impossible to really find out the full details of every product you are using, even if you wanted to. The average product makes at least 10 stops along the way before it ever reaches our stores and we throw it away when its finished its use with little regard for where it will truly end up. This is not being sustainable. There are many great technologies out there waiting to come out and many companies trying to be as fully sustainable as possible, but unfortunately they are being shrouded by all the greenwashing that’s out there.

It’s time to stop greenwashing, and instead really focus on being truly sustainable. This won’t happen overnight, and will take some trial and error. It will take companies looking into the entire lifecycle of their products and finding ways to reduce their impact overall, people wanting to be more conscious and governments strong enough to make responsible legislation.

If you find faulty “green” claims out there or cases of greenwashing- you can report them under the Competition Act.

Community gardens in the Kitchener-Waterloo region

Community gardens have become much more popular over the past couple of years and are popping up throughout the city. Community gardens are a great way to encourage an urban community’s food security, allowing people to come together to grow their own food and plants. Those without access to their own land have a chance to be connected to land; to grow their own crops. Community gardens can be done on a cooperative basis, or a person can rent a plot within a garden to tend to themselves. Community gardens help diversify the city and provide green space to be enjoyed.

There are many different community gardens that one can be part of within the Kitchener-Waterloo region. Here is a list of some that have spaces available.

Community Gardens in Kitchener

Backyard Plots to Share Sponsored by: Opportunities Waterloo Region Garden location: Highland Rd. & Mill St. area Garden size: No. of plots: 1 Plot size: ~ 5′ x 15′ Cost per person: Services provided: Open to: For information contact: Maxine Tel. 519-747-7404

Chandler-Mowat Community Garden Sponsored by: Chandler Mowat Community Centre Garden location: Chandler Park Garden size: 300 sq/ft No. of plots: 15 Plot size: Not Available Cost per person: Call for information Services provided: Land, water, use of garden shed, participation in gardening events for families, and educational activities Open to: Residents of surrounding neighbourhood This garden is located in a high density residential neighbourhood and serves many new Canadians. The garden grew to its present size in May, 1999, with support from the Food Bank of Waterloo Region, the City of Kitchener, and a partnership with the Chandler Mowat Community Centre. The City of Kitchener provided land in Chandler Park, the Home Depot donated a garden shed (2000), and Chandler Mowat Community Centre provides a free source of water. Garden activities include: garden opening and blessing, activities for children, picnics and meetings with gardeners. Upcoming events include: canning workshops, children’s programs, and a harvest celebration. For information contact: Tim and Kathy Elliott Chandler Mowat Community Centre 222 Chandler Drive Kitchener, ON N2E 3L7 Tel: 519-570-3610

City of Kitchener Allotment Garden Plots Sponsored by: The City of Kitchener Garden location: 1541 Fisher Hallman Road behind the Williamsburg Cemetery No. of Plots: 147 Plot size: 20′ x 20′; maximum 2 plots per family. Cost per season: $23.00 (including GST) Services provided: Land, tilling, fertilizing with compost, and water access Open to: Residents of the City of Kitchener This garden is located on land owned by the City of Kitchener. Plots are rented to gardeners each season. Gardeners may have the same plots every year. Gardeners are expected to plant by the end of May and keep plots free of weeds. For information contact: City of Kitchener 82 Chandler Drive, Kitchener ON N2E 1G6 Tel. 519-741-2557

Courtland-Shelley Community Garden Sponsored by: Courtland-Shelley Community Centre Garden location: Vanier Park Garden size: Not Available No. of plots: 20 Plot Size: 10′ x 10′ Cost per season: $ 10.00 Services provided: Land, garden tools, and water Open to: Residents of surrounding neighbourhood, primarily Courtland-Shelley townhouse residents This garden has real diversity with people from many different cultures. Learn about gardening and different cultural practices! For information contact: Doreen West-Gemmell Courtland-Shelley Community Centre 1064 Unit G Courtland E Kitchener, ON Tel. 519-571-7953 Fax 519-571-7591

Doon – Pioneer Park Community Garden Sponsored by: Doon-Pioneer Park Community Centre Garden location: 150 Pioneer Drive, Kitchener Garden size: Not Available No. of plots: 16 Plot size: Narrow pie shaped plot 22′ long Cost per season: $10.00 Services provided: City of Kitchener land, water tank, use of shed and tools Open to: Neighbourhood residents Doon Pioneer Park Community Garden offers 16 individual plots for organic food production. The garden was designed in the form of a wagon wheel with a medicine (herb) wheel in the centre to pay tribute to the native and pioneer heritage of the area. Flower gardens and some raspberry canes surround the fenced-in individual plots. A reclaimed barn-board shed holds tools and resource material for gardneres. Plots are planted individually, but the flower gardens and pathways are cared for communally. For information contact: Sandra Lachance Doon Neighbourhood Community Garden Tel. 519-748-4665

Eden’s Gate Community Garden Sponsored by: Seventhday Adventurist Church Garden location: 235 Williamsburg Rd., Kitchener Garden size: 90′ x 70′ No. of plots: 36 Cost per season: Call for information Services provided: Land, water, use of garden shed Open to: Residents of surrounding neighbourhood and church members This garden is located in the middle of a residential neighbourhood and it is its first year to open. The City of Kitchener has helped with working up the garden area and giving some compost and top soil. There will also be a plot to supply St. John’s Kitchener with food, herbs and flowers. The sponsors are looking forward to meeting new people and gaining more knowledge. Garden activities include: opening of the garden and blessing it, meeting with gardeners, and Harvest Festival. For information contact: Natasha Gould Tel. 519-568-9153

George Lippert Community Garden Sponsored by: Mount Hope/Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association Garden location: This garden is located in George Lippert Park on Weber Street in Kitchener, between Louisa Street, Ahrens Street and Wilhelm Street. Garden size: 1,000 sq. ft. No. of plots: 10 Plot size: 10′ x 10′ Cost per season: $10.00 Service/equipment provided: Land and water Open to: Anyone interested in organic gardening, but especially residents in surrounding neighbourhoods. This garden is an initiative of the Mount Hope/Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association. It started in May 2002 with the support of the City of Kitchener, and a grant from the Waterloo Region Community Garden Network to cover the start-up costs. It is open to anyone interested in growing their own vegetables, herbs, and flowers. For information contact: Ann Voisin Tel. 519-578-8638; available evenings

Green Rural Opportunities for Waterloo Region (GROW Herbal Gardens) Sponsored by: The Working Centre Garden location: This garden is located on Kraft Drive and is the second driveway off Bloomingdale Road in Kitchener Garden size: 1.5 acres No. of plots: Single collective plot Cost: None Services provided: Land, water, seeds, tools, compost, shed, greenhouse, and training in gardening skills development GROW Herbal Gardens is a non-profit project that provides mental health consumer survivors with a garden of therapy and enterprise, and with the training and skills necessary to maintain it. Volunteers of the GROW garden produce organically grown herbs and quality herbal products to sell to the larger community. For more information contact: The Working Centre Misha Gingerich Tel. 519-749-9177 ext. 238

KW Urban Harvester

Sponsored by: Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group
Garden location: Throughout KW
Garden size: Varies from plot to plot
No. of plots: 10 and growing
Plot size: Varies
Cost per season: Free, though donations are welcome
Services provided: Land, garden tools, and water
Open to: All residents of KW, or visitors who just want to help out for a short time

Urban Harvester was started in the spring of 2006 by WLU Grad Kyla Cotton. It is a project dedicated to turning our urban landscape into something that is beautiful, sustainable, and of course edible. It was restarted in Spring 2008 with a plan to begin growing organic crops in any piece of urban soil we can legally use. We want to turn useless lawns and forgotten gardens in the Waterloo Region into bountiful sources of life and nutrition.

For information contact:

Community Gardens in Waterloo

Beaver Creek Housing Co-op Community Garden Sponsored by: Beaver Creek Housing Co-op Garden location: Beaver Creek Housing Co-op Garden size: not available No. of plots: 20 plots for Beaver Creek Members Plot size: 5′ x 20′ (varies) Cost per season: none Services provided: land and water Open to: residents of the Housing Co-op This garden is a totally green, natural, and pesticide-free garden. Since 1983, this garden has been maintained in the co-operative spirit. The participants ensure their gardening practices have minimal impact on the environment. Gardeners grow perennials and vegetables using water efficient gardening methods and no pesticides. For information contact: Kathy Middleton Beaver Creek Housing Co-op 590 Bearinger Road, Unit #7B, Waterloo, ON N2L 6C4 Tel. 519-886-1081

Brighton Yards Co-operative Housing Community Garden Sponsored by: Brighton Yards Housing Co-op Garden location: Brighton Yards Housing Co-op Garden size: Not Available No.of plots: 10 Plot size: 10′ x 10′ Cost per season: None Services provided Land and water Open to Plots are only available to residents of the Housing Co-op. This garden was started in May 1997 with the purpose of giving co-op members the opportunity to grow food, create a beautiful and social space, and contribute to the co-operative spirit of the housing co-op. For information contact: Brighton Yards Housing Co-operative Tel. 519-886-9242

Christ Lutheran Community Garden Sponsored by: Christ Lutheran Church Garden location: Next to the church, 445 Anndale, Waterloo Garden size: Not Available No. of plots: 35 – some raised bed plots Plot size: Not Available Cost per person: $10.00 Services provided: Land and water Open to: Surrounding neighbours A great garden with lots of sunshine! Location is very accessible with great diversity in gardeners – friendly people with a wealth of garden information. This garden was established in May 1999 with support from the Food Bank of Waterloo Region, a Waterloo Region 25th Anniversary Community Grant, and the City of Waterloo (land preparation and water hook-up). Gardeners include members of the Church, Food Bank garden referrals, and neighbours. For information contact: Christ Lutheran Church Jeanette Nelson or Shirley Freeman 445 Anndale, Waterloo Tel. 519-885-4050

Lutherwood Garden Club Father David Baur Drive 519-884-8485

McDougall Road Garden Sponsored by: Private Citizen Garden location: 52 McDougall Road, Waterloo Garden size: 70′ x 30′ No. of plots: 9 plots Plot size: 5′ x 28′ Cost per person: $20/yr (mainly to pay for water) Services provided: Compost, wood chips and delivery charges paid by owner Open to: 14 gardeners – some gardeners share plots For information contact: Andrew Copp Tel. 519-725-2993

The Good Earth Garden Call after April 4, 2008. Sponsored by: St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Garden location: Behind St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Garden size: Not Available No. of plots: 90 Plot size: 10′ x 12′ – some gardeners may have two plots Cost per season: $10.00 Services provided: This garden has its own garden tools and shed Open to: Neighbourhood residents A lovely organic garden with an old fashion water pump. The garden is nestled beside a grand shade tree an has both sun and shade. Gardeners can relax at the picnic table on the side. This peaceful garden was started in May 1999 by local residents, the church and the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. The City of Waterloo helped to prepare the land. For information contact: James Graham St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church 22 Willow Street Waterloo, ON N2J 1V5 Tel. 519-888-0561

The University of Waterloo Community Garden Sponsored by: Land donated for use by the University of Waterloo, Waterloo Environmental Studies Endowment Fund
Garden located: University of Waterloo; North of Westmount North past Columbia Lake
Garden size: Not Available
No. of plots: 10
Plot size:
10′ x 10′
Cost per season: None
Services provided: Land and water
Open to:
Members of the UW Community

Two garden styles exist. One garden is run with individual garden plots with shared tasks; while the other garden operates as one large communal garden where members garden together.

For information about individual garden plots contact:
Jason Rochon
University of Waterloo
Tel. 519-888-4567 ex.t

For information about the communal garden contact:
Candace Wormsbecker
Tel. 519-886-4185 Veghouse Community Garden 55 Euclid Aven

Community Gardens in Cambridge

Christopher Champlain Cultivating Community Garden (CCCG)Sponsored by: Christopher Champlain Community Centre Garden Location: Percy Hill (where McDonald meets Champlain behind 125 Champlain Blvd) No. of plots: 10 Plot Size: 5′ x 20′ (negotiable) Cost per family: $5.00 Services provided: Resources, water, and initial roto-tilling Open to: The Public These garden plots are new, tilled with fresh soil in the spring of 2008. Although CCCG is still in its birthing stage, native plants have been planted to keep it true to the area. It is planned to have benches available by the end of the season allowing for residents, young and old, to walk and enjoy the progress of this garden. Planting with CCCG allowed many residents to come out mingle with each other and produce some wonderful fresh vegetables for those summer meals. Look for future information on canning, preserving etc… For information contact: Lisa Koop Tel: 519-624-3855 ext 227 or Paula Johnstone 519-740-8565

The UW School of Architecture Community Gardens
Sponsored by: Land donated for use by the City of Cambridge
Garden location: Directly south of School of Architecture building, beside the Grand River
Garden size: Triangular plot of land, approximately 1250 sq ft
No. of plots: One – the garden is communal
Cost per season: None
Services provided: Land and water
Open to: Students of the School of Architecture, and any interested community membersThis garden was initially designed and implemented in 2007 through a graduate course at the School of Architecture. Open to both the school and the surrounding community, the garden has become a successful public space where members of the school and community alike come together to share and learn. The garden currently has several beds of perennial flowers, herbs and some fruit, while the majority of plots are left open for annual edible plantings every year. The garden is currently run communally, however if members of the school and/or outside community are interested, plots could also be gardened individually. The project is still in its early stages and any support is appreciated. All gardeners, donations and wisdom are welcome!

For information contact:
Natalie Jackson
Tel. 519-312-8600

Melodie Coneybeare
Tel. 519-505-3074

Waterloo Regional Police Garden Allotment Program
176 Hespeler Road

Tel. 519-653-7700 ext. 2299

Community Gardens in Other Parts of the Region

Diversity Gardens Location: This garden in located on Notre Dame Drive, between Petersburg and St. Agatha along a Hydro Services Corridor. Garden Size: 2 acres Number of plots: Not applicable Open: Diversity Gardens is open for self guided tours and workshops from the middle of May to the middle of October Cost: Some workshops have a small cost. Other events are free. Upcoming events are posted at: Diversity Gardens is a project of the Canadian Organic Growers – a national charity promoting organic growing. The gardens provide hands on training in growing ornamentals, vegetables, fruits, and herbs using orgnic techniques. Located along one of the Region’s environmentally sensitive planning areas (the St. Agatha forest), the garden provides an ideal place to demonstrate the inter-relationships between food and the environment. The site has a series of demonstration gardens, greenhouse, native shrub border, and an outdoor workshop area. On workshop days and when volunteers are at the garden there is access to a demonstration kitchen, a wild crafting studio and washroom facilities. For information contact: Krista Long

For general information about Community Gardens, please contact: Carol Popovic Tel. 519-883-2004 ext. 5336