May 9, 2012 – Kristine Kruszelnicki
Home owner Sidney Gill found a creative way to avoid mowing his lawn this summer. He donated 2,500 sq feet of it to Aylmer Backyard Farms in exchange for a weekly sampling of the garden’s bounty. “I’m loving this,” laughed Gill as he surveyed his newly tilled garden plot. “Not only are we going to be getting good food out of this deal, but now there’s a lot less lawn to mow.”
Aylmer Backyard Farms describes itself as an “urban farm” and has been in operation for over three years. Head farmer Anne Janssen, along with her team of interns and volunteers, creates large organic gardens in select Aylmer yards, of which the Gill’s property is her third. Janssen’s goal is to produce organic food that is grown, sold and eaten in Aylmer.
“From an environmental point of view this just makes sense to me,” explained Janssen. “Eating local is wonderful, but local only addresses where our food is grown. We want to also be conscious of how our food is grown, because if food is produced with chemicals and pesticides, more oil is used and more greenhouse gases are emitted in the production of the food than in the transportation of the food.”
Nine volunteers, including Gill and his partner Anh thu Pham, helped on May 5 to turn Gill’s backyard into large garden plot. “We didn’t know any of these people when they came here this morning,” said Gill, “but we’ve all been working together, pulling weeds by hand, digging trenches, putting up fencing. It’s been a wonderful spirit of community – even our two-year old son is enjoying interacting with all these new faces.”
Sarah Good, a Carleton University student who is interning with the farm for the summer was impressed with the amount of work done in a single day. “When we arrived this morning, the entire yard was mostly grass, and now we’re looking at a garden that is essentially ready to go,” she told the Bulletin.
Rachelle Premack, a Katimavik volunteer from Brandon Manitoba, agreed. “It’s much harder work than I would’ve thought. I look at the size of this garden and it’s hard to believe that it was all put together by people. But it’s really nice being able to participate in the production of your own food.”
Aylmer Backyard Farms’ local organic produce can be purchased Saturdays at Boulangerie aux Deux Frères.