WINNERS of the 2009 David Suzuki Digs My Garden Photo Contest!

Heather Kemp and family from Balgonie, SK
Starting Off

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Our family planted our first garden this year with absolutely no prior experience. We were always eager to get to a farmer’s market for local organic produce, but we could never get there regularly enough. We thought growing a garden would be intimidating, but we just followed a few directions and the plants just did their thing! We’re very proud, sharing our fresh produce with co-workers and neighbours. It makes me feel… wholesome, to be growing our own organic vegetables. We also set up a compost bin for all our kitchen and yard waste, and will add our first batch of compost to our garden soil this fall. A rain barrel is next on my wish list. We felt so inspired by our sprouting garden that we also planted strawberries, raspberries, and Saskatoon berries. Our two young boys just love running around the yard, eating from every corner! Of course, we’ve also stopped using chemicals on our lawn. Barefoot boys and pesticides just don’t go together. We’re hoping to inspire our neighbours to avoid all the chemical sprays too. Maybe we’ll have started an entire neighbourhood conversion... we hope.

WINNER! - Vincenzo De Bonis from Langley BC
(submitted by Maria Martini & Raffaella Shea)
Gardening Fanatics

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Our 84 year old father, Vincenzo De Bonis, is passionate about gardening. He is in the garden morning to night hunched lovingly over his plants even though he's crippled with arthritis. From Italy, where the quality of food is of utmost importance, he has never used pesticides of any kind. When asked why he has seedlings to transplant the moment any crops are harvested, he replies,“I love to see plants grow". In his half acre garden  he successfully grows eggplants, peppers, beans, corn, tomatoes, swiss chard, beets, lettuce, carrots, peas, onions, garlic, parsley, sage, basil, zucchini, squash, cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkins, celery, potatoes, figs, persimmons, grapes, pears, apples, plums, strawberries, and sunflowers. Because his heart is as large as his garden, sharing the fruits of his passion with family and friends is easy.

WINNER! - Bob & Leonore Foster from Kingston, ON
Big Gardens

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On two acres of land we: 

mulch, weed by hand, hoe, pick off caterpillars by hand, cut grass high and infrequently (except the tile bed), keep reducing the amount of grass, have 17 rain barrels, have five  4' x 4' composters, scavenge dead wood for heat for our energy efficient woodstove, mix the wood ash with our compost, companion plant (e.g., marigolds in the vegetable garden to deter nematodes, chives next to roses to deter aphids), have bird and bat boxes to keep down the mosquitoes (and for our pleasure), have goldfish in our pond to keep down mosquito larvae, keep part of our property in its natural state to encourage wildlife and local plants, and plant trees in every available location.

We have averaged nine garbage bags per year for the last 20 years, have no clothes dryer (so our garden has a 10 meter clothes line). 

When our two-year old grandson visits, he can run barefoot in the grass.We have a huge variety of birds, bees, wasps, butterflies, moths.  Bob is a chemist and is only too aware of the synergistic effects the use of a variety of chemicals can have.

WINNER! - Melanie Kramer from Toronto, ON
Small Gardens

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How many vegetables can you grow two stories up in 44 cubic feet of soil 20 feet above the earth?

With cars and bicycles bumping through the alley below, children laughing in the schoolyard beyond, and neighbours hanging laundry out to dry, my partner began to reconstruct our deck with built-in planters for this year’s vegetable garden.

Filling them with organic potting soil and enhancing this with chicken manure we planted numerous tomato plants, zucchini, brussels sprouts, eggplant, hot peppers, radishes, salad greens and herbs.

While our minds filled with words like “brandywine”, “scarlet runner” and “rosa bianca”, our hands filled large containers with arrays of peas, beans, strawberries, rapini, garlic, calendula, and nasturtiums.

Bees, wasps and ladybugs visit our garden for nectar, pollen and aphids as we harvest salads and stir frys. We love introducing our friends and neighbours to the nasturtium’s bright colours and spicy flavour, and sharing our early ripening heritage tomatoes that bleed earthy flavours onto our tongues. It’s an organic garden 20 feet in the air that connects us to the earth.

WINNER! - Robin Round from Whitehorse, YT
Cool Climates

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In the Yukon, almost all our fresh produce arrives via Vancouver, so we eat a lot of fossil fuels when we eat our vegetables. In response, we tore up our front yard this June to match the backyard, which is mostly garden. Our "Yukon Ten Metre Diet" involves lots of leafy greens, cabbage, broccoli, beans, cauliflower, beets, kohlrabi, cukes, zucchini, kale, swiss chard, 15 different herbs, edible flowers and of course, the potatoes you see in the foreground.

Most of our produce is harvested pest-free as the cool, dry climate serves as a natural pesticide. Yukon gardeners are the only ones smiling when the thermometer dips below -40C for extended periods, as they know the pesky aphid eggs won't survive! Raised beds help keep plant roots away from the nearby permafrost and are insulated to keep the heat. We make our own compost - the city of Whitehorse also has a curbside compost program. And we add manure and peat as well as organic fertilizers to keep the plants happy. Twenty-one hours of summer sunlight per day rounds out the picture of urban food production north of 60!

WINNER! - Max Wallace from Toronto, ON
Ornamental Gardens

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When we purchased our house in central Toronto five years ago, it came with a fenced in, perfectly manicured, chemically-laden, perpetually thirsty, front yard. We immediately set to work tearing down the chain link fence, digging out the grass and replacing it with wildflowers and drought-tolerant native perennials. 

Where the yard once stood, a meadow has now emerged, attracting a never-ending flurry of wildlife, including birds, bees and monarch butterflies.

Best of all, the garden requires very little maintenance or water, far less than a typical yard, leaving plenty of time to just enjoy our relaxing urban oasis. 

At first, our neighbours didn’t know what to make of it, but it has been especially gratifying over the years to see seven other similar front yard gardens emerge on our street, apparently inspired by our experiment. 

I hope that when people see how easy and gratifying it is to replace their chemically hungry front yards, it is a trend that will sweep the country.

WINNER! -
Jay Ashworth, Associated Labels in Coquitlam BC
Starting Over

Jay Ashworth, Associated Labels in Coquitlam BC

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The days of “your own parking spot”are over! Our company, Associated Labels, is introducing “your own gardening spot” at work instead. What a great way to take your lunch breaks, or even to wind down after a tough day: nothing beats a few minutes in the garden. 
Envision harvesting some vegetables for a salad at lunch time; or making a cup of tea with your dried mint & chamomile on a wet winter’s day. 

The positive feedback from suppliers, customers and staff proves that people are excited about this new direction. 

Employees are energetic about the environment; and are happy to help and give ideas with current and future projects. I hope the direction our company is going will offer some inspiration to other businesses and families.

Make a difference today!

WINNER! - Steve Unger from Vancouver BC
Vegetable Gardens

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For my wife and I, the garden has always been about one thing: showing our kids (now 3 and 6) how to grow their own food.  We did not want our kids growing up thinking that food comes from the supermarket.  Our urban farm is now over 1,000 square feet and composed of six raised beds to grow vegetables; eight apple, two pear, one plum and one cherry tree; a dozen blueberry bushes; and dozens of raspberry canes.  All organic and where possible biodynamic.
 
We were the first on the block to dig up our boulevard and grow corn, cucumbers, tomatoes and seven foot high peas

Our kids have learned how to sow seeds, grow and plant seedlings, care for, harvest, and store food.  But in the process, our garden became a meeting and eating place for the neighbourhood.  Kids take a play break to fuel-up on some organic peas, strawberries or blueberries.  Neighbours talk over peas, comparing notes on how to grow the best tomatoes.  It has brought our community together.