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City of Pembroke tells charity to dismantle community garden

The City of Pembroke ordered a local charity to dismantle its small community garden of six planters, with some councillors citing concerns about loitering and the charity’s lease agreement.

The raised planters brimming with vegetables sat on a small platform by the parking lot outside The Grind in downtown Pembroke, Ont., until last Friday when volunteers and staff shipped them away at the direction of the city.

“It was a hard, hard day — and a hard week leading up to that,” said Jerry Novack, executive director of The Grind, a volunteer organization and charity that provides services ranging from homelessness support to a lunch program for low-income clients.

“It is disappointing, and you know, we are trying to really help the most vulnerable people in our community.”

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Volunteers and clients, such as those pictured here, spearheaded the effort to bring the planters to The Grind. (Submitted)

Novack said volunteers at The Grind spearheaded a partnership with the local Fellowes High School, which built and donated the planters and supplied the plants.

The goal, he said, was to set up the planters in an outdoor smoking area so clients could grow tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables for use in the community kitchen.

Novack said The Grind worked with the city and health unit throughout its application for an outdoor smoking area.

“There was a space that was leftover where we had initially thought the smoking area would be,” explained Novack. “What our volunteers decided to do was to create a garden in that area.”

Afterward, The Grind filed a site plan control application with the city and a majority of councillors opposed the garden and directed The Grind to remove it.

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