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Newmarket council approves 'neighbourhood' garden on Elgin Street easement
June 12, 2015
By Chris Simon

Elgin Street neighbours may soon have a delicious assortment of fresh vegetables to hand pick.

Council has endorsed a plan to allow Elgin resident Julie Jeannotte to plant a “neighbourhood” garden this growing season on a small easement of town-owned land near her home. She will plant a variety of vegetables, which would be available to all of her neighbours in the area.

"I was hoping to put a vegetable garden there," Jeannotte, a landscape designer, said in a deputation to council recently. "I've talked to my neighbours and they think it's a great idea. It's important to get our community involved in gardens. I'm happy to share my harvest; the more gardens the better. I'm going to make sure it looks beautiful."

The town operates a community garden, in partnership with York Region Food Network, at the Magna Centre.

However, the town has been looking at the feasibility of municipally run gardens in other areas of town.

In fact, council also asked staff during the meeting to investigate the feasibility of placing a garden near the London Road and Main Street North intersection. A report will be presented to council on the matter within the next three to four months.

In previous reports, staff has suggested a municipally run community garden would cost about $25,000 to set up, since water service, top soil, fencing, bench, waste cans, composting area, tool shed, paved paths and signs would be needed at each site. And between $5,000 to $8,000 in annual maintenance costs would be spent at each site.

Jeannotte will run the Elgin garden, likely at minimal cost to the town.

"Why not?" Councillor Dave Kerwin said. "Community gardens are not new. They've been in existence for hundreds of years in Europe; in Germany, there are thousands of them. It's just a great idea."

Others support Jeannotte's garden concept.

"I wouldn't want to complicate (the Elgin garden)," Regional Councillor John Taylor said. "It's a town right-of-way that looks and acts like this person's side yard. I don't think we want to discourage something like this. It's essentially an encroachment agreement on property we're not really utilizing. It's something simple and different."