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My Sustainable Day-Cation to Pickering: Part 4 of 5

This week we’ve been focusing heavily on a lot of the physical infrastructure that is making Pickering a more sustainable place to live. The great addition of the bridge to the Go Station, Pickering’s City Hall retrofits and the great sustainable place-making that is going on all across the City have provided an inspirational beginning to my Day-Cation series. Today, we focus on something that is not so much built as it is grown, dug and cultivated.

As I’m sure you will come to find out, local, sustainable food is an area of overall sustainability that I feel extremely passionate about. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a farming community, maybe it’s because I was raised by serious gardeners (thanks, Mom!), or maybe it’s just because I love eating good, flavorful food so darn much, but whatever it is, I always get particularly excited when a municipality tells me that they are doing more to promote local food.

This year, Sustainable Pickering Day falls on March 31. (for those of you who are following along, that’s THIS SATURDAY!). It takes place at Pickering Town Centre, and the focus of this year’s event is, you guessed it, local food. And what a perfect year to celebrate the City’s advances in this area, especially considering the recent successes of the Pickering Town Centre Farmer’s Market and the community’s new Valley Plentiful Community Garden program.

Pickering is host to 2 Farmer’s Markets that have been running for several years, one outside the information Centre at Ontario Power Generation and one in the Pickering Town Centre but saw a dramatic expansion in 2011.  In 2011, the Pickering Town Centre  Farmer’s Market featured 25 vendors and drew an average of 2500 customers each week. Vendors are often limited by the amount of produce they have on hand to sell, often selling out before the event draws to a close. So let that be a lesson to you, and get there early!

Fresh produce lines the tables at the Pickering Town Centre Farmers' Market

Crowds flock to the Pickering Town Centre Farmers market to get their weekly fix of fresh, local produce.

Of course, the only thing better than buying produce that was picked fresh that morning is growing and picking your very own, which Pickering residents now have the opportunity to do even if they don’t have a yard, thanks to the Valley Plentiful Community Gardens.  The Gardens were started in 2008 with only 8 farmers, and has since grown to include 71 plots, with room to continue growing.  While many of the plots are maintained to provide food for individuals and families, there are also plots that are planted and maintained by a group of volunteers who donate the produce grown there to the local food bank.  This gardens project is the only community garden project in Durham Region located within a public park, situated within the hydro corridor at the Diana Princess of Wales Park, which is a short walk from the Pickering Recreation Complex featured in yesterday’s post.

A Gardener shows off the harvest at the Valley Plentiful Community Garden

But if you’re unable to get a plot in a community garden, don’t fret, because on April 14, 2012 Pickering also offers a workshop in container and vertical gardening, which are perfect techniques to use if you have a balcony and want to give yourself a beautiful, bountiful urban oasis!

I don’t think I can write any more about this, all this talk of gardening and food is really making me want to get out and plant. Also, it’s making me hungry.

Tomorrow, we finish our day by visiting one of Pickering’s most innovative sustainable businesses. Who will it be? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

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One Comment on “My Sustainable Day-Cation to Pickering: Part 4 of 5”

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