Posted by: Southminster Outdoor Task Group
Anyone going past Southminster United Church in the last year or so might have noticed that in the midst of surrounding construction, the grounds of the church offer a little pocket of green on Bank Street. With the work on the interior of the church building completed, the church is now envisioning what this remaining green space could be.
The hope is to create a landscape guided by respect for the environment and principles of sustainability which neighbours and visitors would be free to enjoy. The gardens would be extensive enough to have real impact while maintaining lawn areas for gatherings. The church invites residents of Old Ottawa South to join them in bringing this vision to fruition.
This will be a major restoration project following the intensive disturbance to the grounds due to foundation repairs, the digging of utility trenches and the relocation of the Memorial Garden. The church has collaborated with Green Thumb Nursery to develop a landscape plan. The entire concept consists of an active landscape engaging church members and community in local food production, urban greening, wildlife support and relationship building.
The project is planned to be completed in three stages as the church is able to fund it. The first phase will transform the grounds in front of the church into a welcoming space for people and wildlife alike. The plantings will feature native meadow perennials and grasses which have low water needs and will support a variety of pollinators. Native trees such as white spruce, white cedar and service berry will provide bird habitat and food. To the right of the front steps the Memorial Garden will be re-established. This was displaced by the redevelopment project and it will be a quiet contemplative spot to look upon colourful flowers, shielded from the street by mid height flowering shrubs.
The large boulders that already existed on the property will be incorporated into the design to add character and dimension. One church member remembers when the largest of these was lifted during the digging of the foundation for the addition to the building in 1955. It rested in its prominent spot on the corner of Galt and Aylmer. It will become a feature of the landscape, and will thus commemorate this part of Southminster’s history.
It is our hope that Phase One will be completed in the spring of 2022.
Phase two will see the establishment of an Edible Garden along Aylmer Street. There will be raised beds for annual vegetable plantings and permanent garden beds with herbs such as sage, oregano and thyme, as well as edible flowers including lavender, day lilies and anise hyssop. The garden will also feature berry producing shrubs like currents and Elderberries. Interested members of the community will be most welcome to join church members to create, maintain and harvest these food beds.
Phase three will see the completion of the remaining elements such as the pathways and additional beds which will complete the landscape plan.
In order to bring this vision to completion sufficient funding is required. The church applied for a grant through the City of Ottawa’s Community Environment Projects Grant Program which provides funding to non-profit organizations interested in undertaking small-scale, community-based initiatives that support an environmentally sustainable Ottawa. They were very grateful to receive a grant of $5000 which will be awarded if the project is completed prior to June 30, 2022. It is a great start but is not sufficient on its own. The church has some funds it can make available but will rely on fundraising to make up the remaining $9000 required for the completion of Phase One. Costs of the project include grading, moving the boulders, bringing in soil, mulch, trees, plants and planting. Volunteer labour will be used to move soil and mulch as each phase is implemented. The labour support will help keep costs down and any assistance will be welcomed.
If community members wish to contribute, they can do so in a number of ways. A donation could be made in memory or honour of an individual. This could be by donating the cost of a specific plant, shrub or tree listed.
Southminster also currently has two fundraisers, the Guess the Weight of the Boulder Challenge and the sale of nesting birdhouses. Suitable for small nesting birds these birdhouses are handmade from re purposed wood with side that lifts for cleaning.
If you would like to become involved, make a donation, or receive more information, please contact the Church at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.southminsterunitedchurch.com.
Together, we can create an immersive landscape that welcomes and supports people, birds and pollinators alike.
Featured in the March 2022 OSCAR.
View the “Room to Grow” lanscape plan: Southminster-Room-To-Grow.pdf