THE VEGETABLE MARKET IS HERE!
We're happy to report that the vegetable growing has been a huge success. As of October 2023, we have completed 14 Vegetable Markets at Metropolitan United Church downtown. We have also donated over 300lbs of food to Ark Aid Street Mission on Dundas. In total, our little Fairmont Garden has grown approximately 1,000lbs of fresh, organic vegetables for our community!
Picture above showing our weekly market at Metropolitan United Church
FOLLOW OUR ONE-YEAR JOURNEY
Topsoil Deliver - December 21, 2022
After a soil test was completed, the garden was mapped out partially over the existing parking lot. Four truck loads of gravel were removed and replaced with four truck loads of top soil. A big thank you to Paul Aarts, for providing the equipment and labour for this portion of the project.
String Line Marking - December 23, 2022
The garden was measured and string lined to include 9 field blocks that are approximately 18' x 25' in size and will each hold 4 - 30" vegetable beds with 18" paths between the beds. In between each field block we have paths created at 4-5 feet in width to allow for the movement of a wheelbarrow, BCS equipment and foot traffic through the garden.
Soil Mixing - January 4, 2023
The existing soil at Fairmont church is very sandy. The topsoil added once the gravel was removed was higher in clay content so the soil was mixed to get a better consistency prior to the addition of spring compost. This will help with the BCS mixing in the spring and provide some nutrients and water retention for the garden in the long-term.
Fence & Gate Posts - January 5, 2023
A total of 8 round posts have been installed to a depth of over 3 feet with crushed stone underneath. These will serve as the four main corners of the garden and the two gates. It has been designed to have one gate at the front and one at the back, near the location where the compost bins will be located.
Removing Grass Cover - January 6, 2023
We are removing as much of the grassy layer at the back of the garden as possible, prior to Spring. It is being placed in the back corner as the brush there is being removed. This back section may be used for our compost & wood chip storage and a rear gate will be installed for access to the garden from this area. The rest of the grass will be removed in early spring.
Chicken Wire & Rebar - January 13, 2023
A 36" chicken wire fence was installed using 54" Rebar posts (24 in total). Fence is zip-tied to the tops and bottoms of the Rebar and garden stakes are used to hold the fencing to the bottom ground. This will offer us some protection from rabbits whom, although we love, will eat a lot of our vegetables should we let them in.
Bunker Cover & Row Bags - January 18, 2023
After completing the soil preparation on three of the nine field blocks, bunker cover was laid down with weighted row bags placed on top. The tarp will help warm the ground in the spring and prevent weed growth in the bed area prior to mixing in our amendments. Once spring arrives and the ground softens, the preparation will begin on the other field blocks.
Garden Gate Construction - February 16, 2023
Two garden gates were needed for the front and rear entrance of the garden. Wood gates were built with chicken wire protection on the bottom three feet. J-hook type hinges were purchased with the handle and gate latch from Peavy Mart. Gates can be installed when the weather warms and ground softens.
Nursery Construction - February - March 2023
The Fairmont Market Garden Team are working on the indoor nursery over the winter. This includes getting indoor seeding equipment (lighting, shelving, trays) set up and making sure there are soil tables, bins, and access to utilities in our working space. The seeds have arrived and over the next couple of weeks preparation for the indoor seeding will begin. Once the weather warms up, outdoor work will begin again with the soil for the remaining field blocks and the addition of soil amendments into bed formation.
Watering Table - March 2023
When the trays of vegetables need watering they'll be brought to this table where we can water them from the base up. This will protect the leaves as they grow while keeping uniform moisture throughout the soil.
Potting Table - March 2023
A 55 gallon drum was used to create a container to hold soil. Here, trays can be filled with soil from the drum and then seeded on the adjacent tables. This gives us a nice workspace for our seeding.
Germination Chamber - April 2023
A small germination chamber was created as a prototype for the garden. The box is waterproofed and insulated and contains shelves for the seeding trays. A crock pot is connected to a thermostat and provides consistent heat and moisture for the germination process. The prototype was successful and a 10 tray germination chamber was built for the nursery
Nursery Completion - April 2023
The nursery is complete with lighting shelves, potting table, watering table and germination chamber. All ready for a big seeding day on April 11th!
Raised Bed Formation - May, 2023
We had a great team of volunteers on Sunday and we raised our vegetable beds. There was a lot of digging and string-lining and everyone was pretty tired at the end of the day but, we completed five field blocks (20 beds) and they look great! We have our 30" beds and 20" pathways carved out and we are in the process of finishing off the wood chips.
Irrigation System - May 2023
As we completed covering the newly formed beds, BlueJay Irrigation was installing a drip line irrigation system for us. This would controlled via wireless automation and the watering set on a schedule to serve the vegetable plants
First Transplant - May 3rd, 2023
Today we took our first plants out of the nursery to plant in our raised vegetable beds. We planted the Belstar F1 Broccoli, Bermeo F1 Cauliflower, and the Bopak F1 Pak Choi. It was nice to set aside the shovel and wheelbarrow for a day and we were able to plant these without any tools, the soil was so soft. We hope the vegetables like their new home in Field Block 1 as the sunshine comes in tomorrow. Today was a very exciting day!
Second Transplant - May 13th, 2023
Today we planted the Calibra and Cabernet onions that have been growing since the beginning of March. These onions take over 100 days to grow before they are ready to be harvested. We now have about 300 in the ground!
Third Transplant - May 14th, 2023
Today we planted the Arun F1 Kale and the Ironman Kale that were growing in the Nursery. Had the wonderful family out helping today and can't wait to see the beautiful colour this kale adds to our garden! Approximately 100 Kale plants in total.
Direct Seeding - May 15th, 2023
Today we planted the Boro F1 Beets. These seeds were pelleted and very nice for planting. We completed 3 beds, which amounted to approximately 900 beets in total. Had Mom out today helping to plant. She loves her beets!
Garden Update - May 29th, 2023
The last of our May vegetable planting will occur this week with our Tomatoes, Squash, Cucumber, and Peppers. Most of the vegetables will be in the ground at this point and we'll be building infrastructure to support the development of the plants and keeping the weeds out as best we can. We found this little guy raking in some wood chips to help with the weeds moisture retention in the beds. Way to go!
Drone Picture of Garden - Early June 2023
Ron Koudys was able to capture this great picture of the garden before most vegetables were planted. At this time, we had onions, pak choi, broccoli, and cauliflower started and covered with insect screening. The irrigation system was coiled at the beds awaiting the other vegetables.
Garden Update - June 26th, 2023
With a garden full of first-year soil, the plants were a little slow to root and take up nutrients but they are starting to arrive now! Here's a few pictures of "FIRST" vegetables showing up in the garden. Pictured below from left to right is our first Cauliflower, Nathaniel holding our first Valentines Day Blend Radishes, and our first Cascadia Snap Peas.
Welcome to the results section of our website! Here you will find the statistical data pertaining to our vegetable growth, our vegetable markets, and our vegetable donations. We've also included some fun facts about biggest vegetables and our overall experience with this project.
Total Vegetables Harvested by Week
With a bit of strange weather early in the season and being planted in first-year soil, the vegetable were slow getting started. The rooting took some time and watering levels needed to be experimented with in the sand-based soil before the correct amounts were being administered. Our first harvest took place in the beginning of July and the available food increased each week following. By the end of the season, we could easily harvest over 100lbs of vegetables per week in our garden.
Total Vegetables Harvested - Sold VS Donated
As of October 1, 2023 Metropolitan has donated over 40% of its vegetables to Ark Aid Street Mission on Dundas Street. The vegetables are brought to Metropolitan United Church on Sunday mornings for sale and anything left over is then taken to Ark Aid in the afternoon. The vegetable sales help to ensure the financial viability of sustaining the program and give the church a good visual for the work being accomplished through this project.
Below is a graph of the eleven vegetable donations made so far. The vegetables are brought to Metropolitan United Church on Sunday mornings for sale and anything left over is then taken to Ark Aid in the afternoon. The vegetable sales help to ensure the financial viability of the program while giving the church attendees a good visual for the work being done. As of October 1, 2023 Metropolitan has donated over 40% of its vegetables to Ark Aid Street Mission on Dundas Street, amounting to almost 400 pounds.
What Sold and What Didn't
We can see that Ark Aid received a consistent supply of lettuce from the church, while things like Snap Peas were bought up at the church markets. Over the summer, the church was able to offer a very nice variety of fresh vegetables for the Ark Aid chefs to turn into meals and as of October 2023, we are still donating! Many people were unsure how to prepare some of the vegetables, like Pak Choi and Jalapeno Peppers. We brought in some prepared dishes and recipes to help give people an idea of what they can do.
Mark Read, Farm Manager
Metropolitan United Church
Phone: (519)432-7189, Press 4