Brownfield site is being transformed into a park and vegetable garden in Saskatoon

On August 1, 2018, CHEP Good Food received a matching grant to implement a CN EcoConnexions From the Ground Up project in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

These grants are a part of the CN and Tree Canada initiative that invests in community greening projects across Canada. More than 140 applications were received from Canadian communities of all types and sizes. CHEP has received the only grant awarded in Saskatoon.

CHEP’s askîy project provides young people in Saskatoon innovative ways of interacting with their natural, social and cultural environments,” said Yvonne Hanson, executive director for CHEP. “The CN EcoConnexions grant allows the askîy project site to become a place of beauty and rejuvenation for the whole community to enjoy while improving our outlook on a brownfield that was formerly underutilized.

CHEP Good Food works with children, families and communities to improve access to good food and promote food security. The askîy project uses over 400 repurposed blue food-grade plastic containers for planting above ground. The site grows a variety of vegetables, flowers, and herbs each year as well as hosts educational workshops, demonstrations, and tours for groups.

The askîy project is an award-winning initiative of CHEP Good Food, a non-profit organization that seeks to improve food security in Saskatoon’s core.

The askîy project provides opportunities for relationship building between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth as they create a social enterprise. The project will use the CN EcoConnexions grant to rejuvenate their current garden site on vacant, city-owned land, which is adjacent to a rail line.

Tree Canada is thrilled to be working with CN to enhance the tree canopies of so many deserving communities across Canada,” said Michael Rosen, President of Tree Canada. “These trees we plant and nurture are a living legacy that will enrich our country, our communities and our homes for decades to come. These communities greened through CN EcoConnexions will be a lasting testament to CN’s exemplary environmental leadership.

The lot is a 0.87-acre brownfield; a former industrial site contaminated soil. Planting native trees, shrubs, and plant material will help beautify the site and assist in its decontamination. The local community will benefit from an increase in public green space. Enhancing a green corridor at this location provides an on-foot connection for many key spots throughout the community including nearby Optimist Park, Station 20 West, and Victoria Park.

The askiy project’s main garden is the one pictured using blue containers for planting on the mentioned brownfield site. The soil is contaminated and unsuitable for growing food – hence the containers for now. The project just moved to this site this year. In the past, the askiy project had a smaller main site (adjacent to this new one) and a couple of smaller sites in the same neighbourhood. This new site will allow the project to expand in the coming years.

Produce and herbs harvested from this garden are sold at CHEP Community markets, as well as to local chefs and restaurants. In addition to the askiy project container garden, and the planting of new trees and shrubs, there is a new community garden planned for this brownfield site.

The lot sat vacant for 20 years, so it will be quite the transformation. CHEP Good Food will support the set up of the community garden (also using containers), but it will be local community members planting, tending and harvesting that garden. People who use community gardens typically don’t have space of their own for planting. The produce they grow is theirs to keep.

In 2017, the askîy project won best small project at the national Brownie Awards, recognizing projects that re-purpose brownfield sites in positive ways.

Tree Canada is a non-profit charity dedicated to improving the lives of Canadians by planting and nurturing trees. Since 1992, we’ve planted more than 80 million trees, greened more than 600 schoolyards, helped restore places hit by natural disasters and brought together urban forestry experts greening cities all across Canada.

The CN EcoConnexions From the Ground Up program is sponsored by CN Rail, in partnership with Tree Canada. It provides funding of up to $25,000 for the greening of municipal and First Nations properties across Canada, especially in communities along its rail lines.

Featured aerial photo courtesy of PCL Saskatoon. All other images courtesy of CHEP Good Food.

See CHEP Good Food website.

See Tree Canada website.

See CN EcoConnexions From the Ground Up website.

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