About the Milky Way Garden
To increase the quality of life of marginalized people in Parkdale by establishing a Shared Urban Agriculture Space for Parkdale: a site of urban agriculture and environmental projects that increase access to healthy fresh food, while creating opportunities for learning, training, employment and community connections.
The Milky Way Garden is a unique plot of privately owned, currently unused land behind the Parkdale Public Library. It provides an active outdoor learning component to a local ESL program. With members of our team and ESL teacher Tish, the students are able to seed, care for, grow, and harvest many of their traditional foods.
With permission from the owner, the temporary garden began in 2007. It used 160 recycling bins and food storage containers, and was maintained by a group of ESL students from the library made up of adult learners from around the world.
Over several weeks, we reached out to the community and stakeholders by holding a series of consultation workshops that both allowed residents to come to us, and us to them. In Round One, we visited the ESL class that has been using the space for a decade, as well held a public consultation open to the wider community. The purpose of the first round was to brainstorm needs, wants, and dreams for the site. In Round Two, we visited local community organizations that serve marginalized
populations such as Sistering, PARC, and Parkdale Project Read. We also revisited the ESL class, met with board members of Greenest City and PNLT, and held a second public consultation. The purpose of the second round was to focus on specific activities and programs that were most essential for community benefit.
The Business Plan was prepared from January-June 2017 by consultants Anita Wong (business plan) and David Cork (Financial Model). It incorporates Greenest City’s ideas for the site, significant feedback from the Community Consultations process (Jan-Mar 2017), primary and secondary research of similar initiatives, and site opportunities/limitations from the Design Planner Kendall Flower.
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"Purchasing the Milky Way Garden is only the first step towards achieving our ambitious goals for this space. Any extra money we raise will be going towards planning and long term visioning of the space."
- Angela ElzingaCheng, Executive Director of Greenest City
Milky Way Garden as a Community Anchor
The Milky Way Garden land was purchased in late August 2017. This is the first time in the City of Toronto that land has been purchased for community use. The Milky Way Garden will be a social benefit enterprise for connecting community through food-aligned experiential programming that emphasizes growing and sharing of healthy food and culture.
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The Milky Way Garden will serve as an anchor space for Greenest City. Along with the ability to invest in infrastructure and design a purpose built space, the development of this space allows Greenest City to have a focal point for developing programming, offer fee for service opportunities, ramp up fundraising, and create new ways to engage with individuals, groups, and institutions in Parkdale and beyond. In addition through the development of the Milky Way Garden we are developing the capacity to support urban agriculture development in existing and new developments in the neighbourhood. As a space for community building and gathering the Milky Way Garden will be an accessible space. It will be physically accessible for the elderly and people with mobility issues. Programming will be made accessible to low-income community members. Activities will encourage and celebrate different cultures and their celebrations through acknowledgements, programming, and events that share and celebrate the fruits of our labour. We will also partner with local community organizations who can enhance existing programs.