Food is an important part of life at the park, and there's lots of it. The Bake Ovens produce much of the food sold at the park, and they are at the centre of the many parts of the food life around the park. See Food In The Park for more information.
The Masonry Stove Builders' continent-wide bake-oven information link is here.
The two wood ovens are near the basketball courts and the outdoor ice rink, at the northwest corner of the park. They're next to some flower and vegetable gardens that are surrounded by split-rail fences to keep the dogs out. Roses grow over the fence, and beans and squash in season. Sometimes in winter if it's really cold out, skaters come off the ice to stand by the oven nearest the rink, to try and warm themselves. But the ovens are not very warming, because they were designed to channel all their heat into their baking chamber.
Save the date: on June 20 at 6 pm, a special Saturday night supper for the park ovens, and to remember Dan DeMatteis
This year the park’s bigger community bake-oven turned 20, and the smaller oven turned 15. Both of them have held up well with so much use, but by now they both need some repairs. This provides an occasion to have an extra supper – to raise some repair funds, and to celebrate one of the first cooks who started the suppers, in 2003. This was Dan DeMatteis, who began his cooking career at the park – before going on to work at Jamie Kennedy’s and other Toronto restaurants. Dan died suddenly of an aneurysm in 2012, and is much missed by former Dufferin Grove colleagues as well as by cooks and friends across the city.
Two former park staff who cooked with Dan in the early days of the suppers have agreed to come back and cook this June 20th dinner: Lea Ambros (still a local park friend) and Anna Bekerman (now living in Arizona). Others of Dan’s friends will be there to help with chopping, serving and washing dishes (more volunteers welcome, kids included!). And there’s another reason to celebrate that day: the GH Wood Foundation has given funds to CELOS to build more picnic tables and benches for a comfortable seating area beside the big oven. We were inspired by an arrangement of tables, benches, and planters built by James Davis for a Foodshare roof garden on top of a school in east Toronto. James called the space he created “Dan’s Table” (also after Dan DeMatteis) and he was kind enough to share his blueprints. On June 20, the new sitting area will be ready for use. If it rains, the big market tents will be up to keep the eaters dry and remind the old-timers of the fun they once had eating in the rain during the park’s Cooking Fire Theatre festival.
What works: kids climbing in the park
These days there’s lots of debate about playground safety: have the new, low-to-the-ground playground designs gone too far in bubble-wrapping kids? It seems that kids need to take risks, and many child advocates say it’s important to let them. So Dufferin Grove playground has kept the long swings, and the monkey bars. The playhouse roofs were not intended for climbing, but many kids do get up there, and sit there surveying the world. In the 1980s, many of the trees had their lower branches cut off by staff so the kids couldn’t climb them, but the more recently planted cherry trees are easy to get up on, and to go high. The top of the shed roof beside the wading pool is a place for kids playing cards without being bothered by younger siblings. And the new, higher storage sheds by the basketball court are a real challenge – older kids can climb up by the chain link fence and lunge across to the roof, and when they want to get back down they can use the nearby basketball pole to slide down like firefighters. Adults may want to turn away so they don’t get anxious watching, but at Dufferin Grove, the kids are developing nicely.
As usual, the rinkhouse suppers will be a smaller version of the outdoor suppers, and yes, you can eat in skates. From 6 to 7 pm, $7 main plate (vegetarian or vegan only), plus $3 dessert.
The secret, excellent fix of Dufferin Rink
Sometime at the end of November, when the rink had been open for a week, the city’s technical staff found a problem with the motor of one of the two 75 horsepower compressors. Inside of 24 hours, they got a new compressor motor, brought over a telescoping crane and positioned it at the west compressor-room, removed the broken motor (very large and heavy) with the crane, and installed a new motor. There was no interruption in the skating schedule, and in fact very few rink users or program staff even noticed that work was going on, since it was happening at the opposite side of the building. Now that's some skill! Compare with Queensway Rink in Etobicoke, with a damaged compressor motor that wasn’t fixed until just before Christmas, so that the neighbourhood lost three weeks of skating season. How did Dufferin Rink get lucky and Queensway not?
City staff shortages threaten popular Dufferin Grove Park dinners
By: Stephanie Law Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 Source: The Star
If Friends of Dufferin Grove Park have their way, they won’t be having their last supper anytime soon.
Toronto Parks and Recreation staff have been serving up three-course dinners in the park every Friday evening during the warmer months since 2003, when the community group worked with the city to organize the meals.
But last Friday, residents who showed up for the dinner were disappointed to learn it wasn’t being served because there weren’t enough city employees available to run the event. The supper is confirmed for the next two weekends, but its future remains uncertain.