Sunday, 15 September 2013

Ashdale Library: Lending books to people and gardens to plants

Hey Garden lovers!

I know it's been a great summer hasn't it?  A long cool slow Spring followed by a wet and hot summer. Remember way back in June when I told  you that The Rail Garden was planning a garden plant at the Ashdale Library?

Well it happened, way back in June!

The City of Toronto had kindly shared their plans for the tunnel rehabilitation project as early as possible so we knew that their construction was going to take out the small starter pollination garden we had going.

Since the Ashdale Library had already reached out to us about planting on their yard we thought it might be a great fit to transplant as many of our pollinators to their property!
A call out to the neighbours for any plants they were looking to split resulted in peonies, hostas and bleeding heart bushes from Jones all the way through to Coxwell.
Then a couple of well placed phone calls and our labour force was established .

Our plants are doing well in their new home and we are looking forward to splitting them and bringing them back to their original home in the Spring.  I love seeing the community beds spread through the neighbourhood.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

And so it begins...

Most of you already know, the City of Toronto is going to be doing some much needed work on the Monarch Park Tunnel this summer.  This work is going to leave us with a resurfaced tunnel entrance to the Park - new lights and a new retaining wall around the East side of the path through the garden.

It is going to be lovely when it's done but it in the meantime since we won't be able to establish our community beds, The Rail Garden committee is looking for opportunity to grow 'satellite garden's around our amazing neighbourhood.

The first of which is in the little planter at Roden Public School.
Local parent Theresa Baillie helped to coordinate the effort with a few key members of the Garden - Miranda, Jen and Carly to put in some fresh flowers and greenery.
They planted some marigold annuals and some perennials.

and of course, left the well established irises to do their Spring thing.
We will also be working with the Ashdale Public Library to build a perennial garden over the next month or so. 

If you know of a possible site for a satellite garden and would like to help us build a satellite garden please email us at!   Keep in mind we're all working parents so give us lots of time to respond.

See you in the dirt!

Friday, 24 May 2013

This summer we will be...ubiquitous.

Hello lovely Rail Garden Supporters,

Thank you so much for joining us for dinner last month.

It was really the perfect kick off to the season.  It will be an interrupted and abnormal season without a doubt.  The City is investing heavily in our amazing community and will be doing a lot of really important construction on the tunnel leading to Monarch Park.

It means that we won't be able to invest in our community owned gardens this year and will be trying to maintain the personal allotment gardens through the construction.  Ambitious goals especially because the gardens will be surrounded by construction.

 We don't want to lose all the momentum and enthusiasm for the garden and our events during the summer so The Rail Garden Committee has made a shift in our priorities this year. 

We are planning and hoping to run more community dinners and local garden events with the sole goal of maintaining the excitement and investment of our neighbourhood in this important project.
Our first dinner met those goals perfectly.  130 neighbours joined us for dinner and we managed it so well we came out even financially.  Actually, that's not true.  The Rail Garden came out far ahead after such a long winter, we got to see our friends and supporters again in a beautiful space with beautiful food.
In the coming weeks you'll see us at Roden School and the Ashdale Library planting 'satellite' gardens.  If you know of an area that could use some garden love please let us know and we would love to help facilitate a 'garden party'.
To keep us running we will be running our one and only fundraising event this year.  It promises to be off the hook with some of the best comedians in Toronto.  We would love it if you could join us; it helps to keep us planting in the neighbourhood and running family dinners!
Please see the Lazy Daisy Café for tickets and the meanest Dirty Chai Latte you can find in the City.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Growing Community Dinner!

This post is a long time coming but we have been busy putting together a plan for the second year of The Rail Garden's existence.
It will be a bit of a challenging year due to some pretty great improvements that the City of Toronto will be delivering in 2013. We are working hard with the different City Departments to get a schedule and gain some efficiency through collaborative efforts (between City Departments :)
Until then, rest assured we plan on continuing the traditions of community dinners and cabarets! 
Please see the beautiful poster below for details and email to reserve one of the few tickets left.

See you soon!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Notes from the Edge

First of all, thanks to all the gardeners and community members who came out in the pouring rain to participate in our meeting. Here are the notes from the meeting.

Miranda started the meeting by giving a light history of The Rail Garden and how we started it. Turns out having a small committed group of individuals who all have different broad connections to the community is the best way to grow grassroots support!

Thanks to Paula Fletcher and Erica Woods for all their support in coordinating our critical meeting with city planners.

We have three new amazing committee volunteers who have joined our committee.  Marc Macguire, Jen Harris and Danielle Young. They have already brought new ideas and processes, it's great to get some new eyes and perspectives on our team.

We asked for feedback from attendees on the way we built and administered the garden last summer.  Feedback received included
  • that the work bees were a great way to meet neighbours that did not cross paths normally
  • activities for the kids were great - the art day, work bee activites
  • there could be better signage at the garden to facilitate communication with folks passing by, maybe better outreach to local school
  • perhaps we could use the city hoarding line (during construction) to put signage on
  • apply more rigour around the plot application process - specifically regarding what is considered access green space by applicants
There was special mention here for Carly Miranda for her amazing work with Roden and Equinox last year planting the community beds.

 We need to get more support managing the community beds throughout the summer. Since the City is resurfacing the Monarch Park Tunnel this year, community planting will be limited in scope so this will be a good year to try some of the suggestions by attendees:
  • getting gardener participation and ownership of the community beds - an assigned day per week to do garden management
  • develop signage about availability of produce in the community gardens for the broader community
Since we will be limited in what we can build this year until the City lets us know what their building schedule is we are looking for ideas of community events and organizers to maintain momentum around the garden
  •  movie nights
  • garden parties
Thanks to everyone for their great feedback on how we could better organize the supporters of The Rail Garden and translate that support in to volunteer staff at our community dinners.

Thanks to Mike, Dawn, Erica and Theresa for offering to support our efforts around sign translation this summer.  We will be reaching out to you on a regular basis as we develop better signs for the garden and for our events!

Thanks to Diane for volunteering to manage our phone tree, if you or someone you know would like to receive a phone call when we are running events please contact us at therailgarden (at) gmail (dot) com.

It was a great meeting with some productive conversation.  We are looking forward to a great year of programming and building on what we created in 2012!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Our very first Annual General Meeting

To: All Supporters of The Rail Garden
From: The Rail Garden Committee
Re: The first Rail Garden Annual General Meeting


It is hard to believe that this time last year a small group of us were trying to figure out how many people might want to come to our first community meeting and if there would be anyone out there willing to help us build a garden, not just for gardeners but for the whole neighbourhood.

There weren't just one or two people wanting to help us there were hundreds of you; and so, one season of work bees, Breakfast Television, 10 allotment gardens, a shed, a composter, free community art events, dances, dinners, tomatoes and basil for everyone who needed them! (check out our Flickr page for a dose of summer and fun) 

Like every fledgling organization, we are coming to another big milestone; our first Annual General Meeting! 

Please join us to talk about the lessons learned, share your thoughts and hear some ideas on what adventures may be in store for us in 2013

The AGM is Tuesday, January 29
7:30 PM
GAS -- 1390 Gerrard (

We will go over our budget, fundraising, and plans, and introduce our new committee members. 

There are some really exciting improvements coming to our neighbourhood in 2013 and this is going to be a great opportunity to find out how you could be involved.

Come gather with us to enjoy the company of an inspiring, galvanized and passionate group of neighbours.