Biking along the Eglinton bridge over the Humber, I spotted a tiny little garden on the eastern bank of the river just north of the bridge. The garden is almost entirely concealed and can only be spotted from several spots along the northern sidewalk of the bridge just west of Scarlett. The outline of the garden and its irrigation mounds can just barely be made out on Google Maps.
Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be startlingly well-kept and well-tended, growing a variety of plants protected by an elaborately built fence built out of branches and wire. There was even a small locked gate facing the river, with a thin dirt path leading to large flat stones ideally placed along the bank of the Humber for collecting water.
I spent a bit of time trying to research this garden and found that it was featured in a Jane’s Walk, but that the gardener is an “anonymous newcomer.” The property is technically owned by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, but my bet is that the garden is either entirely off their radar or they are simply turning their heads to allow the gardener(s) to work.
Small farms and tiny agricultural gardens are nothing new for the Eglinton Flats. Before Hurricane Hazel hit in 1954, there were several market gardens in the extremely fertile flood plains along the Humber at Eglinton. Following Hazel’s devastation of the area and the property being acquired by the TRCA – and subsequently the City – the market gardens haven’t yet returned (or so I thought).
On designer Sarah Tranum’s website, a revitalization strategy for the Mount Denis neighbourhood [PDF] includes ideas about growing vegetable gardens in Eglinton Flats along the flood plains. With more people ‘buying local’ and fads like the 100 mile diet becoming increasingly popular, maybe more of these gardens are in store for the future of this vast park.
To see more photos of the location, see Spacing’s Flickr account. If anyone knows more about the garden or attended the Mount Dennis Jane’s Walk, please fill us in on what information you might have.
Photos by Jake Schabas