An 'example of the heart of Hamilton': This east-end resident grows food to help feed neighbours

·3 min read
Christine Gordon says her garden project is her way to help address food insecurity and help people who struggle to put food on their table. (Submitted by Christine Gordon - image credit)
Christine Gordon says her garden project is her way to help address food insecurity and help people who struggle to put food on their table. (Submitted by Christine Gordon - image credit)

As food prices soar, one east Hamilton resident has been planting fruits and vegetables that members of her community can take for free when they are ready to harvest.

Christine Gordon says it's her way of addressing food insecurity and helping people who struggle to put food on their table.

Gordon has two gardens — one immediately in front of her house and the other a few metres away, on the other side of the street, near Gage Avenue North and Barton Street East in Ward 3.

"[One] has a strawberry patch and regular vegetables," Gordon told CBC Hamilton.

"The one at my house, I have all sorts of vegetables and I have standing boxes full of vegetables and wild flowers that people can cut and take home.

"I've got tomatoes, rhubarb, potatoes, beans, peas, peppers, spinach, radishes, onions, garlic, sweet peas and Brussel sprouts. So, I have a whole variety," she added.

Submitted by Christine Gordon
Submitted by Christine Gordon

Gordon says people in the neighbourhood have welcomed the gardens.

"That's the whole point. They come and they take what they need because they're on [Ontario Disability Support Program] or on welfare and they can't afford to go and buy themselves food," she said.

"Also, a lot of them cannot walk or get to a food bank … There's one couple I know in particular who can't go to the food bank just because they can't physically get there. So, they have security in knowing that they can come and take some fruits and vegetables from my house."

Different from a community garden

Gordon explains that while her gardens are for the entire community, they are not the same as a community garden.

"A community garden is what the community tends to and takes care of, and sometime a community garden has its own plots [that individuals tend to]," she said.

"For my gardens, I have it on my property and I have it across the street from an industrial property, and I pay for them, I tend to them and it's available to whoever needs it or wants it."

Gordon says "it would be really awesome if we could have these all over the neighborhood," adding that community gardens usually have a locked gate and they cannot be accessed by everyone.

"You cannot get to it [if you are not] a member of that community garden," she said.

Submitted by Christine Gordon
Submitted by Christine Gordon

Gordon begins planting the last week of May and keeps the gardens active until the last week of October.

She says around 20 people regularly access the garden for supplies but she keeps no record of who they are.

"I try not to watch because I like people to feel comfortable just coming and take whatever they need," Gordon said.

Gordon says it costs her around $25 to get the gardens up and running.

"I seed save, I have a seed bank in front of my house so other people can swap seeds and I take some of those ... I just try to make it work without spending too much money," she said.

'Amazing' example of local engagement: councillor

Meanwhile, Ward 3 councillor Nrinder Nann has praised Gordon for her project, which she describes as an example of local resident engagement on a neighbourhood level to address food security issues.

"It's an example of a resident knowing the needs of her local community and just meeting them," Nann wrote in an email to CBC Hamilton.

"She is conscious and caring and has turned her home into a community hub for what residents need. This is an amazing example of the heart of Hamilton. Seeing a need and addressing it is a strong example of Steeltown love."

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