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The indigenous sacred herb garden

May 2, 2021

After a May 1-2 24-hour sacred fire held at the Dufferin Grove Park main fire circle, the idea of youth growing the sacred herbs at the park was raised. Community Garden coordinator Skylar said she'd be very pleased to make one of the city's new raised planters available right away. On May 2, Kailee C. started a GoFundMe campaign:

Kailee C is organizing this fundraiser. Medical, Illness & Healing
Help Us Grow Our Traditional Medicines at Dufferin
$3,121 raised of $3,000 goal

A group of Indigenous youth in Toronto will be growing our four sacred medicines - tobacco, sage, cedar and sweetgrass - which are integrated into our peoples everyday lives and used in ceremonies to aid in offering, healing and protection.

Donations will be able to assist us as we plant, grow and harvest each medicine at Dufferin Grove park. Our goal is to keep our medicine readily accessible to the community, in an area that we hold many of our sacred ceremonies. We believe that being able to grow our medicines will help us to connect more with our community and give youth an opportunity to learn through our Elders, Healers and Medicine people.

Chi-miigwetch!

May 7 2021

New garden areas discussed -- possibility of using the two existing gardens near the bake oven, because they already have good soil and are ready to plant. Gofundme goal raised to $6000.

May 10, 2021:

Group decided that "the grounds given to us by you beside the construction is not an ideal place to grow a traditional garden." Alternative idea: asking to be allowed to build two 10x10 planter boxes on the north side of the field house. $6000 goal has been exceeded.

May 12, 2021

Email from community garden coordinator Skylar to indigenous garden lead Kailee:

For sure, you need a place that feels right. We thought you might like the already dug and good-soil gardens near the bake oven, since making new planting beds means digging down into hard ground -- which is tough in a park, where the ground has been compacted by so many feet for over a hundred years.

But as you say, the location near the construction area has its own problems. The workers have been bending over backwards to be helpful but there's nothing they can do about the noise and the trucks going in and out.

The city's Parks Department manager assigned our group the location where the circle of planter boxes is now. Those boxes and the existing gardens I showed you are the only places where we are allowed to garden.

So, you'll need to contact city staff directly. You can ask them for a site meeting and I bet they'll be very interested in your request.

The people for you to contact are: Cheryl.MacDonald@toronto.ca (recreation manager) and Peter.White@toronto.ca (parks manager). Plus you might want to cc or directly contact the general manager (Janie.Romoff@toronto.ca). And I think the local city councillor, Ana.Bailao@toronto.ca can also be a great help in getting the permissions you need.

Looking forward to seeing you in the park!

The sacred garden group was able to get city permission to install two 12 x 12 ft. garden beds halfway between the field house and Dufferin Park Ave.

June 6 2021, email from Skylar

Hi Kailee: Here are the City of Toronto people to speak to regarding the in-ground water source by the Gladstone Ave. park entrance.

Tom Feeney tom.feeney@toronto.ca
Mike Severeide mike.severeide@toronto.ca

July 13, 2021, from Skylar

Ethan (one of the main gardeners from the First Nation youth group sacred medicine garden) spoke with me last week...Ethan told me they plant corn first and wait for it to grow 12" or so and then plant the beans and squash b/c the beans could pull the corn down if they planted at the same time. So, I learned something new...they planted beans and squash last week...to complete the 3 sisters garden...


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