The idea to establish a dedicated children’s garden was inspired by the High Park Children’s Garden in Toronto. Community member Aamina Badran initiated the children’s garden project with the help of the Ottawa East Community Gardeners (OECG). Sustainable Living Ottawa East (SLOE) was intrigued with the idea and in the fall of 2007 SLOE chair Rebecca Aird, along with Annette Hegel, Erin Kaipainen, Leah MacDonald, Julia Sneyd and Chris Osler began the planning process.
By spring of 2008, with assistance from the City’s community garden coordinator Sue Bramley, SLOE had acquired permission for use of Robert Legget Park, an under-utilized space at the corner of Clegg and Main Streets. Funding from Evergreen/Walmart and the Community Foundation of Ottawa soon followed. Research and design work by Lady Evelyn students in Jen Dawson’s class resulted in a wonderful plan for the garden; and a fence picket was painted by each student at the school. Finally, in the fall of 2008, the Corporate Council on Volunteering (Volunteer Canada) led an intensive work day to implement the students’ plan. The fence went up, the paths and seating circle went in, and Ottawa’s first dedicated children’s garden came into being!
Sandy Hill Community Health Centre has been an invaluable partner throughout the development and ongoing operation of the Garden, with significant involvement from staff Chris Osler and Geri Blinick. Volunteers from organizations including the Community Garden Network, Carleton University, Let’s Talk Science, and the Ottawa Master Gardeners have also made important contributions. Evergreen continued to be a generous funder for the first few years, and the Main Farmers’ Market funded the Garden’s first seasonal coordinators.
Who keeps the garden alive?
The Garden is managed and run by dedicated volunteer board, a summer student coordinator and many volunteers in the community including students at Lady Evelyn Alternative School. Our 2016-2017 key volunteers include:
Annette Hegel: Co-chair, volunteer board
Catherine (Cat) Hooker: volunteer board member
Sue McKee: Co-chair, volunteer board
Pein-Pein: Compost caretaker
About the Community Activities group of Old Ottawa East (CAG)
This year the garden once again partnered with CAG, to offer quality programming for children of all ages at the Children’s Garden. CAG is a voluntary, not for profit, community-based organization that works in partnership with the City of Ottawa to provide the residents of Old Ottawa East with programming, recreation, and special event opportunities that are local, affordable, inclusive and of interest to members of the community. Currently our family playgroups and school age programs, as well as the garden summer camp are offered through CAG and available to all residents of the City of Ottawa and surrounding areas.