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Guest Post: AccessPoint on Danforth community program
Rooftop garden production
2013 brought its challenges and rewards as a growing season. Here at AccessPoint on Danforth, (a Community Health Centre and Hub of community services) the rooftop garden was in its third year under cultivation.
With some perennial beds already well-established on our 6,000-square-foot green roof, and a successful Green Access program bringing volunteers and community programs to populate the rooftop garden, we set our sights to a small, neglected strip of land beside the back parking lot. This strip of land, about four feet wide and one hundred feet long, was bounded by a concrete curb and filled with gravel. We called it Gravel Garden.
Gravel Garden Rehabilitation
In an effort to transform Gravel Garden into something a bit more visually and ecologically pleasing, Green Access staff teamed up with Ecoman to take on a mini naturalization project.
As it turned out, the depth of the gravel was not so mini and required more bins than planned to haul it all away. For weeks afterwards, staff complained about the gravelly parking lot until the Green Access program organized a volunteer work day to sweep away the gravel, cut back overhanging branches, spread topsoil and get ready for planting.
Planting the gravel garden
We were lucky to have some financial resources before the fiscal year-end and these were stretched out to cover costs of perennial shrubs, flowering plants and ground covers. Ecoman worked collaboratively with Green Access to come up with a plant list that included edibles, native plants, and even some medicinal species. Local volunteers joined forces with staff at AccessPoint to spend a day in April planting and watering the new garden.
Over the summer, purple flowering raspberry (Rubus odoratus) thrived and red currant bushes bore a tasty first harvest. Solomon’s Seal, Hepatica and Comfrey started to get established in the shady areas. We experimented with growing hardy Kiwi (Actinidia kolomitka) and a specially bred variety of honeysuckle with edible berries (Lonicera caerulea). Bugbane (Cimicifuga) and Virginia Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum) were also nice additions.
Discarded trees find a home in the gravel garden
As Green Access had a limited budget, Ecoman helped us to be resourceful. Jonas rescued a few trees from his installation at Canada Blooms and we were delighted to offer them a home in the newly transformed Gravel Garden. It saved us money on the trees and saved the trees from certain death after Canada Blooms ended.
These small honey locust trees (Gleditsia triocanthos) and one lilac suffered a bit in the hot and dry parts of summer but they ultimately became well-established. Finally, later in the season a couple of America Elder (Sambucus nigra) trees were added. Thanks to Ecoman’s help we achieved a visible improvement to this otherwise overlooked space.
Lara Mrosovsky works as a Health Promoter at Access Alliance, where she coordinates the rooftop garden and Green Access Program.