Friday, September 28, 2012

People's Peas Garden - Toronto - Destroyed

I saw a post from a friend on FB tonight that was a link from Occupy Canada - telling folks that the People's Peas Garden, planted in Queen's Park, Toronto, in May as part of the Occupy Movement, has been destroyed by the City of Toronto. This happened earlier today, with tomorrow apparently being a celebration in the park to do with Autumn Harvest. There were over 740 comments on the photo of a City worker tearing it up when I last looked about 30 minutes ago. I wanted to know more, after reading HUNDREDS of posts of outrage.

I noted one person in there commented that it is almost October and perhaps the garden was mostly harvested already, because it is getting cold and there have been frost warnings, and that could have killed the food grown there if someone was not watching it carefully. I have had small gardens in my lifetime as well and know that lots of food was ready long long long before October, and was curious what they had planted there.

I found a video posted online in support of the garden, about a month ago, showing people harvesting some of the food and trying to weed the badly dried out garden. But near the end you can see a little pile of various foods harvested - looks like some lettuce leaves, etc. I did not see a whole heck of a lot still growing there a month ago. I am curious how much was actually destroyed? This vid is posted  on the Occupy Canada FB page and wonder if the video will make a sad disappearance? I should try to get some screen shots to put here because of that possibility, so I will be right back ;)

Here is a news story about the demise of the garden: . Before I post the screen shots I just took and make my remarks about some of the commentary included in the video, I will say that at first glance, I thought the City was retarded for pulling up the garden the day before this Autumn Festival that was planned in the park for the very next day. That just feeeeeds the movement like crazy, so why the City did not deal with this garden earlier, I will never understand. The article states that this is the usual time of year for the City parks dept to do fall cleanup, which I understand because it's happening in my City too right now, but come on... do they not have any sense or forethought? Seriously. Of course this would totally upset people and up the ante. However - there are comments within the video that I find hilarious or at the very least, something to take careful note of.

The videoman comments that the tomatoes are really good and he had one a couple/few weeks ago. He explains that they are yellow tomatoes, not red, and they are yummy. Another man is talking with him and comments that they are probably OVER ripe now, and he says things like 'yeah they are really good'. You can only assume he was eating one right then and there, because earlier he did not know they were edible and then suddenly he says they are really good. So the man with his fancy phone that takes video has eaten something from the People's Peas Garden, admits it while taking this vid - is he homeless? Why did he eat that? Could some little hungry toddler not have had that tomato for a nice snack? Why did HE eat it? If he is homeless, how does he have such a great phone? He comments during the video that he is 'on livestream' for Occupy Toronto, and goes around taking thousands of photos and some videos for the movement. And he says 'Connected to FB, oh good' at some point. I dont have a phone anywhere near that cool. But he does, and he is eating fresh produce from the People's Peas Garden - why?? How many did he eat? How many other things did he taste? Who got the food that was tendered from that garden anyway? Where did it go? He comments that it would make a nice salad - for whom?

There is a really funny section where the dude is explaining to a girl gardener that 'those are weeds'. He says he always picks those because they suck up all the water from the garden, and then says some people arent sure but 'those are Weed' and 'those are definitely Weed'. HaHA I laughed. Then he catches himself and says 'well not the kind you smoke' lol. Sorry, I thought that was hilarious.

So here are some video screen shots of the People's Peas Garden, taken apparently a month ago according to the page. You can click each one to enlarge if you like.

 Tending to the garden.

 Recently watered garden area.

 The picked produce of the day - yellow tomatoes, some sort of lettucey stuff, and I'm not sure what else. Foot in there for size comparison worked out great.

 Yellow Tomatoes.

This is pretty much the whole garden. Just a little tiny bit on the left side does not show up. 

So there ya have it - The People's Peas Garden. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I think the City lacked some thought on the timing of the removal. Or maybe they did know exactly what they were doing. People planted the garden to thumb their noses at authorities (dont pretend it was all about feeding the people - seriously), and perhaps the City was returning the friendly gesture by thumbing their nose right back, on the day before the big Festival. But I have to tell you the main reason I wanted to learn more about this - it's because in the photo on Occupy Canada's FB page, it shows the man quite close and I cannot see food hanging from the huge vine he is pulling up. The leaves remind me of some kind of squash or perhaps a cucumber plant? But I do not see anything anywhere along the vine. What were they going to harvest? The leaves? I found that a bit odd. A much more damning photo would have been nice fat yellow squash dangling from the vines as he shoved them into the garbage can, don't you think? But here is the photo:

There were also a lot of comments on the FB page (now numbering 775 as I type this) directed at this particular worker. And people saying that he was just doing his job, but they would have been fired that day because they would have said No, etc etc. Well this guy might have a family to feed too, and may not have the option to give up his wages, benefit package, and perhaps pension program, in order to save the life of a few veggies. Maybe he just gets the notice to clear out the garden patch in the northwest corner of Queen's Park and he has no flippin clue that the group who planted it was not notified, etc. How the hell would he know? He gets his jobs list and sets off. Seriously - people slamming this man need to grab a thought or two. Geezus. There were others who defended him and said to leave him out of it, its not his fault, its the govt. And of course a few who blame Harper. 

But in the end the fact remains that the garden was planted as part of a global Occupy Movement protest, as an example for how you can grow food gardens in urban areas, bring some awareness to people, etc. It's not like the homeless and poverty-stricken families of Toronto are going to starve because this beat-up dried-out garden was destroyed after a lot of food was already harvested. Their point should already be made - you can plant a bunch of food for your family if you try hard enough. But now their point is that Canada is falling to the wolves, and starving people are missing out on this garden, and food was needlessly destroyed.

Meanwhile, I just wonder how many doggies and kitties pee-pee'd in that garden.
Updating: I found some other vids on youtube. Here is one from August 27th 2012. The man mentions that they planted it without express permission. . You can see people in the background with baskets, harvesting tomatoes and seeds, talking about the squash, calendula flowers, oh and some cucumber, basil, thyme, lettuce (kale, collard) that has been almost done and harvested already according to the speaker, hot peppers, and other veggies that they did not show anyone picking so I dont know when they would have been finished - beets, peppers, etc.
Another Update - I just got up and looked at more comments on the Occupy Canada page and saw that one man linked to this post and then presented his own thoughts and opinions. That was pretty cool. I simply think that it is important to check things out. I watched my friend and her other friends talking about this on her FB page and they said things like they were 'heartbroken' that this was done 'before harvest', etc etc. It was not technically before harvest. I am sure some stuff is still there, but it's questionable if that food would have survived the cooling temps (such as the small green peppers I saw on the vid from a month ago, they should have been finished by then). I do not think the City was wise if they pulled up the entire garden, but I have yet to see photos of bare ground as well so who knows what went on. When we don't live in a particular location and cannot check things out in person, we can only rely on what we find by looking around online. This is not the most reliable source either so that can be difficult! I stress to people to check out what they can and listen carefully, look carefully, and you never know what you may find.

I should also point out that squash plants are creepers and can be hard to tame. They spread like crazy! My dad planted a garden a few months before he died and I still have a letter from him explaining that he somehow ended up with squash in there that he did not plant (perhaps some seeds were mixed up in a packet??) and how it had taken over the whole garden and he was having trouble keeping it from choking out his preferred plants. Maybe the City wanted that thing out of there before the park slowly became a giant squash garden? Who knows. But it's just a thought. 

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