The Story of the Community Garden

The Story of Centretown - Centre 507 Community Garden in Photos


Not too long ago there were 6 lovely ash trees in planters on Bank St. beside Centretown United church. The folks at Centre 507, a Drop-In Centre located in the church building, used to enjoy sitting under these trees and cooling off on a hot summer day. The members of the congregation appreciated the green beauty the trees brought to their churchyard on Bank St.


Sadly the trees were killed by the ash bore and had to be cut down.

The empty planters were a sad reminder of loss.

After contemplating the empty planters for a while a new idea blossomed, inspired by the United Church of Canada’s policy on Food Sovereignty. Why not take out the tree stumps, fill the planters with healthy soil and grow food?

The congregation decided to partner with Centre 507 and grow vegetables in the planters to be donated to the Centre. This would add fresh, nutritious vegetables to the soups and lunches at the Center and would create an opportunity for participants in the Center to volunteer with other volunteers from the congregation and neighbourhood to learn about growing food in the city and the pleasures of gardening.

With the help of a grant from JUST FOOD Ottawa the garden began to take shape.


Removing the stumps

Curtis Fortier, volunteer, donated a truck, chain saw, axes and his expertise in removing the stump from each planter. A team of seven volunteers helped Curtis saw, chop, dig and pry out the stumps.


The first stump is out.


The stump crew, Lan, Debbie, Curtis, Jane, Brian, Jim, and Linda (not in the photo).


Starting some seedlings

Mme. Camille’s grade 3-4 class at Elgin Street Public school signed on to grow some vegetable seedlings in the classroom over the winter.


Adding new railings

Mike, Centre 507 Board member and volunteer, added some new railings to the planters so that new, rich soil could be added.


Adding soil

Many thanks to Big Yellow Bag Ltd. who delivered 5 cubic yards of rich, clean soil, only charged us for 3 and kindly dropped each bag of soil directly into each planter. Saved us a ton of shoveling!!! Thank you Andrew from BYB.



In late May Mme.Camille’s class from Elgin Street Public school planted seedlings and some seeds in the new garden.


Jim, Jane, Brian, planting the first lettuces and leeks.


Tomato teepees

Jim, the tall guy on the right, built a tomato “tepee" in two of the planters. Assistants Brian, Jane, Debbie, and Linda planted 2 tomato plants at the foot of each of the 8 poles.


Garden sign

Debbie preparing to “plant” a garden sign in each planter. The sign says: “Centretown United/Centre 507 Community Garden. These gardens have been created by volunteers from this church, Centre 507, Elgin Street public school, neighbours from this community and JUST FOOD Ottawa. The veggies will be donated to lunches at the Centre. Please leave the harvest for the folks at the Centre. Help us keep the gardens trash-free and beautiful. Many thanks, the Centretown Gardeners”.

Garden - Oh No

Oh! No!

Just a recently some very unwell person took out his/her anger on our garden shed. I am happy to report however that Tim, a good friend of the garden and Property Chair at the church, within minutes of seeing the damage, offered to repair it. The shed, thanks to Tim, is once more operational.


Garden trellises

Victor, Centre 507 volunteer and Brian installing the first trellis for the pole beans.



Jules, water brigade volunteer.

Garden - A Thriving Garden 2

A thriving garden!

Climbing beans, kale seedlings, 2nd crop, leeks, climbing tomatoes on a tepee, pots of zucchini, chard, radish, more beans, beets….


First Harvest! June 3, 2015

Salad with lunch anyone? Harvesters – Linda, Brian, and 507 participants and volunteers Mike and Rose.

Garden - Bounty of Beans

A Bounty of Beans

Garden - Composting


We strive in our garden to be environmentally friendly and to avoid adding chemical fertilizers. In the first year we purchased some recycling bins from JUST FOOD and asked the staff and volunteers in the 507 kitchen to start putting organic waste into our bins.

Composting is a challenging task and needs constant monitoring to ensure only wanted organic waste is included. The other challenge for us was finding a volunteer with a strong back, willing to regularly turn and balance the sometimes smelly contents of the bins. However recently, Richard, offered to take this on. It turns out that Richard is quite knowledgable about composting and he has already made a big difference. We are hoping next year to be able to make this job a little easier by replacing at least one of the bins with a rotating bin.

Garden - A Thriving Garden in Centretown

A Thriving Garden in Centretown

Garden - A Thriving Garden 3

A Thriving Garden in Centretown


Preparing lunch


Preparing lunch cont'd


Kitty, Centre 507 staff, chopping veggies for lunch at Centre 507.


Lentil soup with garden greens, onions.

Garden - From Beets to Borscht

Beets to Borscht.


Celebrating Canada Day in the Garden

The seven pillars of food sovereignty endorsed and lifted up in the United Church of Canada’s report, Toward Food Sovereignty for All :
  • Focus on Food for People
  • Value Food Providers
  • Localize Food Systems
  • Put Control Locally
  • Build Knowledge and Skills
  • Work with Nature
  • Recognize That Food Is Sacred

Celebrating Community

Celebrating Community

Our garden not only grows food, it grows community. Neighbours love to hang out in the garden. Passersby love to stop and chat with the volunteers. They ask questions about growing veggies and tell us how much they find the garden beautiful and refreshing in busy downtown Ottawa. We've talked to tourists from Belgium and Argentina, young people on their way to a Red Blacks game and families who stop to teach their children about the different veggies. The garden is welcoming and healing place for everyone.