Building Community with Water Tower Gardens

Building Community with Water Tower Gardens.

Read this article in Cambridge Times by Colene Evans-Allen, a 10-year resident of the Preston Heights neighbourhood. A great story of determination that results in a beautiful community garden and positive change for a neighbourhood!

"Something had to change in my neighbourhood or we would have been living at the mercy of drug dealers and criminals.

I lived in an apartment complex made up of low-income households, single-parent families, drug dealers and violence. The police were regular visitors to the complex, two people were stabbed, and one person attacked and seriously injured in my building.  

It was a scary place to live at that time, because we were all strangers sharing the same space.

I wanted to change my neighbourhood for the better and give people the chance to meet and form friendships, to feel included, and to have dignity and a purpose.  

I wanted people to be able to eat well, feel safe in their homes, get to know each other, and form the kinds of bonds that make a neighbourhood a great and desirable place to live.

In the fall of 2009, the Region of Waterloo sent out a notice to neighbourhood residents that the water tower next to our complex was being demolished, as it was no longer needed.  

The 10,000-square-foot piece of land the water tower sat on was centrally located for the apartment complex, reasonably close to the Preston Heights Community Centre and “land-locked”. That little strip of land was screaming out to me “Make me a into a community garden. I promise to make your home better!”

The water tower lands created an odyssey that saw me put in more than 700 volunteer hours, attend council meetings for both the City of Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo, schmooze with municipal politicians (at least, as much I was capable of such a feat), and attend meetings with representatives from no less than seven regional departments and three city departments.  

It would have been easy to give up on the idea as each new problem, challenge, or piece of red-tape reared its ugly head.  

I wanted to change my neighbourhood and if that little piece of land was how I was going to be able to do it, come fire and brimstone or heaven, I was going to get that piece of land for a community garden."

Read the full article HERE

To learn more about the Water Tower Gardens, click HERE

Tell us your story. Share how your community garden got start, how you got connected to community gardening or share what positive change has occured in your community because of gardening! To write your own blog post and click HERE