Children’s Garden 2008

In the spring of 2008 – in the pre-construction phase of the project – Evergreen began to program the Don Valley Brick Works site and a thriving farmer’s market was soon established. As an accompaniment to the market, Evergreen asked children’s outdoor learning spaces expert Heidi Campbell and myself to create a children’s garden in a muddy, orphan space adjacent to the market (today it is the Welcome Court of Evergreen Brick Works). There was an understanding that the garden was to be a single season undertaking as construction was to begin the following year. And so, using the guidelines Learning Grounds director Cam Collyer and Heidi were establishing for the children’s experience at the site, we designed a loose fit garden that featured two resident artists – Shannon Crossman and Morgan Ziegler – specialists in working with children in outdoor environments.

With the help of a small legion of volunteers, we implemented innovative solutions to the unique challenges that faced us on the brownfield space. For example, no food could be planted in the ground. So we outfitted the area with large scale feedbags and specially designed cob constructed garden beds that children augmented every Saturday. There were a willow tunnels, a willow trelus, brick paths, straw bale construction, children’s size tables and chairs, rain barrels, a central gathering with fire pit and a toddler’s sand hill – all custom builds.

Throughout the summer, Shannon and Morgan produced inspiring art installations that they executed with children and volunteers. The art youth group Sketch contributed an backdrop along the chain linked fence that separated the factory from the garden, as well as a functioning cob oven that was built with the help of Shannon and Morgan. And then there were the vegetables – lots and lots of vegetables that grew prolifically throughout the rain filled season.

That November, we put the garden to bed, but the space had left its mark on all who participated, speaking to the hidden potentials of derelict spaces that exist across our urban landscape.

landscape architect and project manager HEIDI CAMPBELL artists in residence SHANNON CROSSMAN, MORGAN ZEIGLER, SKETCH, FERRUCCIO SARDELLA contributing director CAM COLLYER


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