O'Hara Garden Rejuvenation

June 26, 2020

Introducing the Parkdale People and Pollinators Peace Garden, in honour of Parkdale’s Black Communities

The Parkdale Village Business Improvement Area (Parkdale BIA), along with local social enterprise Parkdale Green Thumb Enterprises (PGTE) is proud to share rebuilding plans for the O’Hara Garden as The Parkdale People and Pollinators Peace Garden, in honour of Parkdale’s Black Communities.

This rejuvenation project was conceived of and facilitated by Angel Beyde, Organic Master Gardener and Business Manager of PGTE, in partnership with the Parkdale BIA and many local community groups and organizations, as a vibrant and transformative symbol to honour marginalized residents, particularly within our Black communities.

“We humbly dedicate this space as a haven of peace, harmony and mental wellness, a place to feel refuge and connect with nature among the concrete,” says Beyde. “As the plants quietly pull carbon out of the atmosphere and do their tiny part to mitigate climate change, they bring beauty and pleasure, without discrimination, to all who pass by.”

In light of recent events affecting our Parkdale neighbourhood, such as repeated vandalism inflicted upon the O’Hara Garden over the past months, anti-Black racism and the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Parkdale BIA is committed to continue its support of numerous programs and organizations within our community serving marginalized individuals. The BIA recognizes that the disparities and stressors are even greater among members of our Black communities.

“Parkdale People and Pollinators Peace Garden is a positive space of resilience rooted within a neighbourhood of resilience,” says Beyde. “Focused on healing and regeneration, and the importance of acknowledging struggles while also celebrating the inherent strength of the Parkdale community, the garden honours Black community members such as Regis Korchinski-Paquet and the movement for justice that Black Lives Matter embodies.”

PGTE programs help increase benefits to Parkdale’s most vulnerable residents by enhancing their employability, securing them work and support during the cycle of employment, all while helping beautify the community. Working together with Queen Victoria Public School’s Black Student Success Committee (BSSC), founded by local residents such as Naiomi Joseph, PGTE’s garden rejuvenation project will also seek to engage Queen Vic students in a Black youth citizen scientist project to help monitor butterflies, a powerful symbol of transformation, that visit the garden.

“As a first generation Canadian of Caribbean decent, I come from a family of farmers and nature lovers. I'm a mother of two and I want to continue sharing this tradition of respecting the environment and beautify our community,” says Joseph. “I'm a proud Parkdaleian, and this project demonstrates to children and youth that we can come together as one.”

In addition to Parkdale BIA’s funding, friends and organizations in support of PGTE have pledged over 400 donations of plants, many of which we hope to hand out during a Community Native Plant Giveaway day, taking place Wednesday, September 16th from 4 pm-6 pm at Queen and O'Hara. Learn more here or view the Facebook event here.

If you are interested in learning more or contributing in some form, please reach out to Angel Beyde at greenthumb@workingforchange.ca / for updates follow PGTE and the BIA on social media.

Parkdale Village BIA Gardens 2002-2019

The Parkdale BIA funds and manages a number of neighbourhood beautification projects and assets in the area which help beautify, create safer streets, and enhances way finding and gateway intersections into the area as well as helping tie the area together visually. The ‘Floral’ beautification projects include over 180+ planters, hanging baskets and seven pollinator gardens along Queen Street West. In 2012, the Parkdale Village BIA was one of 21 communities selected from across the country to receive a TD Green Streets grant to support expansion of their downtown urban reforestation program. The program saw reinvigorated community gardens and historical plaques within seven Queen Street gardens.

PGTE is operated by Working for Change, a non-profit organization that emphasizes the importance of work in the lives of people who have been marginalized due to poverty and mental health issues. It operates social purpose enterprises, leadership and pre-employment training programs, as well as providing community-based research and public education on issues related to poverty and mental health.