From the North Bay Nugget
Zel Artan has big plans for the 1.2-hectare patch of land her parents have been growing vegetables on for the past 20 years.
The Artans are turning some of the weeding and watering over to the public this summer, opening up 464 square metres of garden to members of the Near North Locavores, who plan to grow produce and donate it to a local not-for-profit organization.
For many years, Artan’s Turkish-Canadian parents have lived off the produce grown from their garden near the Laurier Woods.
Excess produce is sold to the community at the North Bay Downtown Farmers’ Market each Saturday in the summer or preserved for the winter.
But as time wears on, maintaining the large garden has become difficult for the couple.
Last summer, Artan, who splits her time between Toronto and North Bay, picked up the shovel and continued in her parents’ footsteps working the garden with the help of friends.
“I got involved with it last year and fell in love. It’s like a vegetable Sweetman’s Garden,” she said of the lot on McIntyre Street West that has offered a floral oasis for visitors for many years.
This summer, some members of the Near North Locavores plan to revitalize an overgrown part of the Artans’ garden, growing fresh organic produce that will be donated to a not-for-profit organization yet to be determined.
The area will also be used to demonstrate how people can grow some of their own food.
Next summer, the group hopes to establish community allotments, allowing people to grow their own vegetables.
Laurel Ronan, a core member of the Locavores, said they are excited to be able to use the land and expand an already beautiful garden.
Opening the garden to the public is just the starting point for Artan. She has many campaigns and challenges planned for the city.
The Seed to Feed Earth Week challenge kicks off Wednesday, with a goal of raising awareness of the importance of collecting and keeping seeds year after year.
“Planting vegetables is one thing,” she said. “It’s about making people aware of protecting the heirloom seed varieties.”
Along with the campaign, her personal goal is to educate herself and her family on being self-sufficient, starting with feeding her family at least one meal a day from food they produced.
She hopes other families in the city will take up the challenge as well.
“My kids understand that organic produce tastes better and is better for you,” she said.
She also hopes to pass on gardening skills to a younger generation through a children’s day camp this summer.
The long-term goal is to make the garden an educational facility, and Artan hopes government grants will allow them to add a horticultural ecology centre.
There is also a documentary planned on the garden, and she hopes the interest will garner them a television show.
In the meantime, volunteers will start turning the earth later this week, preparing the garden for planting and building a water-retention system to collect rain water for the garden.
“I think North Bay needs this,” Artan said.
And here are some photos from the farm last year:
More to come!