Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


Yukon Community Garden

D.U.G.S. (Downtown Urban Gardeners Society) first year!

By John Harmon
Tropicals North
The Real Dirt, c\o 211 Wood St., Whitehorse, YT., Y1A 2E4

It would be very hard to complain about the weather last weekend except for maybe the fact that it brought out the bugs again. They of course got theirs last Monday night when the weather went back closer to normal. The warm days and nights were great and gave everyone that last taste of good weather before our annual long dark.

There was an important anniversary last week that marked the first AGM of D.U.G.S. (Downtown Urban Gardeners Society). I was very happy to see this organization get together and delighted that they will be here for the next growing season. On March 7, 1997 I wrote about the community garden project in Yellowknife and what they were doing. Here's part of what I said then.

"This is a great project and provides an opportunity for people to learn and enjoy the gardening experience that might otherwise miss it. Anyone who wants to start such a program here in Whitehorse should get in touch with the YCGC for more information on their program. With that big pile of compost up at the landfill site and a little help from our local governments a community garden could take shape here in Whitehorse to the benefit of everyone."

I'm happy to be able to tell you the project did indeed get going and has flourished. Here's some of what D.U.G.S accomplished in just their first year. One of this years board members, Spence Hill, said:

"25 groups and or individuals were active gardeners ..... most of the plots were undertaken by individuals, a couple were shared by two people (in one case a mother/daughter team) and a few were undertaken by a group or organization.

There were/are 21 plots ..... 18 individual (of which I think three are accessible to disabled) and 3 communal plots which many people worked on at various times. These are the plots from which food was harvested for "charities" around town. We call them food security groups ..... agencies which are trying to ensure that people are fed. Which agencies? Salvation Army, S.O.S. (Second Opinion Society - they have a hot lunch program and are in contact with people who need food) Mary House, Kaushee's Transition House and the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre (again a lunch program and in contact with those in need .... specifically women and kids)

Hard to say how much food was provided ...... from one communal bed alone (and there were 3 of this size) we harvested 200 pounds of spuds (actually the Y2C2 -Yukon Youth Conservation Corp .... the young people involved in the Renewable Resources summer program , did this harvesting ..... a bunch of 18 year olds digging up the spuds with such glee you'd think they were gold nuggets ..... seems the kids had never done anything like that before and thought it was great fun!) In this same communal plot there was also lettuce, spinach, tomatoes and cabbage ..... all of which were delivered to the food security groups.

After a couple of deliveries of produce a few clients from these agencies dropped by to work in the communal plots ..... just to help out ...... that's the kind of community building/ involvement we hoped for ..... felt good to see people able to give back."

I want to extend my congratulations to all the folks who got together and made the Whitehorse community garden a reality. They logged over 1500 hours of volunteer labor over the summer building the raised beds and filling them. The work was worth it. Thanks to D.U.G.S. and their partners Whitehorse has a community garden that will be enjoyed by many over the years and will help provide fresh healthy food to many people who might not otherwise get a chance to garden or sample Yukon grown.

"So far this years Board consists of Shawn Pumphrey (former president) Sherri Billowitz Joan Craig, Michael Dougherty and myself, Spence Hill. Our last board started with 12 members and diminished over the course of the season. We didn't set a number for this year's board but we would probably like a board of 10-12 to get going in the new year. We are going to canvass last year's gardeners again and approach some of the "food security" groups who bennefitted from our garden this year. ..... i.e. the Salvation Army, Mary House, and S.O.S. to see if they would like to have a rep on the board. We'll also be approaching the churches who had garden plots this past year to see if they have a live warm body who would like to get involved! We will also be putting a notice in the paper soliciting board members so we hope to be up to strength by our next meeting Nov 16th (not sure of venue just yet) Call me 633-4786 or emaill if you have any questions or if you want to sit on the board!!!!!"

If you want to get involved give Spence a call.

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Revised April 16, 2001

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture