Indigenous food sovereignty garden coming to City Park

City Park in downtown Kingston. Photo by Owen Fullerton via LJI.

Kingston Indigenous Languages Nest (KILN) will soon be building a new community garden in City Park.

The garden will be the first one owned by KILN itself, with the organization previously borrowing space for on-the-land programming from community partners like Walking the Path of Peace Together, who operate an Indigenous food sovereignty garden on a plot of land next to Highway 15.

Working alongside KILN, the City of Kingston called for community consultation last summer to see what people thought of building two smaller vegetable and medicine gardens at the edge of City Park along King Street, near the former site of Sir John A Macdonald’s statue. KILN’s Executive Director Constance Carriere-Prill said that consultation resulted in what KILN will now be building and operating in City Park: a larger garden located centrally in the large downtown park.

“Some of the feedback came back and said: why can’t it be bigger?” Carriere-Prill said. 

“So looking at that feedback is sort of when we went back to the drawing board and said why don’t we think bigger on this? We wanted to make sure we’re providing something that the community was excited about and could engage in.”

In working with the City, KILN identified City Park as an accessible, central location with plenty of space available and further room to grow in years to come. Given its proximity to a number of elementary schools, Queen’s Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, and the Tipi Moza housing complex, the park also made a lot of sense to encourage outreach. 

Carriere-Prill explained that the garden is likely to bear similarity to that on Highway 15, as KILN’s Community Connections Coordinator Mandy Wilson did a lot of building and continued work on that garden. She said that Wilson brings a lot of traditional knowledge and gardening expertise that she can impart to volunteers. 

“She’ll probably do some similar things and probably find some areas that she wants to do something a little bit different,” Carriere-Prill said. 

“But I know whatever it is, it’s going to be incredible, because she’s just got incredible knowledge of the land and the plants, gardens, and medicine, so I’m really excited to see what she actually puts together for us.” 

Carriere-Prill specifically pointed to Wilson’s urban foraging walk, which are open to anyone, as a great experience where people can learn what edible plants grow around them in their community and how to actually make use of them.

“Showing people what plants actually just grow around us in nature and in our community,” Carriere-Prill expressed. “Encouraging people to not only build our understanding of what plants are out there but knowing what to do with it.”

KILN is eager to get the building of gardens at City Park underway as soon as all approvals are official, and are currently seeking input into what the garden’s name should be. Additionally, KILN is currently seeking interested volunteers for the building and continued maintenance of the new space.

“Gardens take a lot of work, so it’s going to take many hands in the community to keep it going and keep it growing this year,” Carriere-Prill said.

Those interested in volunteering can get in touch with Mandy Wilson at [email protected].

Owen Fullerton is a reporter based in Kingston with the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI).

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