What once was the home of flips and verticals may soon play host to fruits and vegetables.
At its reference committee meeting Monday at city hall, members of council listened to a pitch promoting the Moore Food Garden, proposed for the site of the former skateboard park – at the east end of the Moore Street parking lot – condemned and demolished by city staff during March Break, 2012.
The initiative is a partnership between Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and Destination Church, which would back on to the garden. Designed to assist those in the community struggling with food poverty, the garden would complement the First Avenue orchard, where a dozen dwarf fruit trees are to be planted this spring.
The Moore Food Garden is to be modelled after Lafayette Greens, an organic vegetable and fruit garden in the heart of downtown Detroit, advised Catharine Spratley, the city’s supervisor of parks and forestry.
The aim is to create “a beautiful creative space,” added Kendall Chambers, public health dietitian with the health unit, based on container gardening of fruit and produce in a fully accessible setting. Other amenities include a storage shed, compost area, wildflowers to create a natural habitat and an area for children’s programs.
“We already have a team of 12 people with gardening experience to look after it,” explained Beth Fellinger, Destination Church pastor. The Talbot Street church would also make its washroom facilities available to those at the garden.
An application for funding has been submitted, noted Chambers, to be augmented through support coming in from community partners.
A supply of water would be available through existing capability at the BX Tower at the west end of the Moore Street parking lot.
Noting this is the first time city council has been approached on the initiative, city manager Wendell Graves questioned whether the parking lot is the best location.
“Could this be used at 230 Talbot Street,” questioned Graves, referencing the property to be purchased from London developer Shmuel Farhi to house the new home of Ontario Works. Graves also suggested Jonas Park, located to the east of Ross Street.
Ross Tucker, the city’s director of parks, recreation and property management, said other venues were explored, including a vacant lot on Kains Street, “but we’re not blessed with good, clean soil in other locations.” He added, “I’m not sure we’ll see all of this (a completed garden) in one year.”
With concerns raised about the short window of opportunity to begin the garden this spring, Graves advised undertaking a staff report to come to council for the meeting scheduled April 24.