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3,000 votes cast to determine Canada's best, 100% pesticide-free gardens

VANCOUVER - Three-thousand people have voted and the results are in — Heather Kemp and her family from Balgonie, Sask. are this year's top pesticide-free gardeners and the overall winners of the third annual David Suzuki Digs My Garden contest.

"Our family planted our first garden this year with absolutely no prior experience. We thought growing a garden would be intimidating, but we just followed a few directions and the plants just did their thing," Mrs. Kemp wrote in her contest entry. "It makes me feel wholesome to be growing our own organic vegetables."

This year's David Suzuki Digs My Garden contest saw more than 500 entries come in from every part of the country, ranging from Melanie Kramer's luscious balcony greenery in downtown Toronto, and Whitehorse's Robin Round and her 'North of 60' garden, to Fort Calgary's community garden that feeds some of Calgary's most in-need.

"Everyone who participated in the contest — including the entrants and those who voted online — has shown that toxic pesticides simply aren't necessary for a gorgeous green yard," says David Suzuki. "Let's hope that our governments get the message and ban the use and sale of lawn and garden pesticides."

In addition to showing that Canadians are adept at growing beautiful lawns and gardens 'drug-free', the contest also highlights some of the amazing stories of individuals and community groups and their respective gardens. Here are just a few of their stories:

  • The Fort Calgary community garden just east of downtown Calgary combines the best of pesticide-free gardening and human spirit. For nine years, the community garden has been growing and donating fresh produce to communities in need. Last year the gardeners donated more than 1,000 kg of food and the garden itself offers the many volunteer green thumbs — many of whom face barriers to employment — an opportunity to reintegrate into the workforce.
  • High up on the rooftop of Quebec City's La maison de Lauberivière — a non-profit organization helping people in need — the Urbainculteurs (or Urban Farmers) tend to the province's largest rooftop garden. This summer the green oasis produced close to two metric tonnes of organic fruit, herbs and vegetables, with much of the yield supplying the kitchen of Lauberivière and its residents. The garden incorporates new container technology called Biotop that is specifically designed for high-productivity gardening in dense urban areas.
  • Vancouver's Jason Traversy and his neighbours used nearly 14,000 kg of discarded coffee and filters to turn the underside of a Vancouver bridge into a pesticide-free, community garden. Retired teachers, nurses and the homeless have banded together to maintain the patch of greenery that was once no more than a mound of pulverized cement and garbage.

The online response to the photo submissions was overwhelming. Winners of the third annual David Suzuki Digs My Garden photo contest have been posted online and include:

  • Big Gardens: Bob & Leonore Foster, Kingston, ON
  • Small Gardens: Melanie Kramer, Toronto, Ont.
  • Cool Climates: Robin Round, Whitehorse, Yukon
  • Ornamental Gardens: Max Wallace, Toronto, Ont.
  • Starting Off: Heather Kemp (the Kemp family), Balgonie, Sask. (***overall winner)
  • Starting Over: Jay Ashworth (Associated Labels), Coquitlam, B.C.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Steve Unger, Vancouver, B.C.
  • Gardening Fanatics: Maria Martini & Raffaella Shea, Langley, B.C.

The success of the contest reflects a growing movement away from lawn and garden pesticides. Both Quebec and Ontario have strong bans in place and many retailers have voluntarily removed dangerous chemicals from their store shelves.

To view photos and stories of the winning entries, visit: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/digs-my-garden

For more information, photos or to contact the contest winners in your area:
Jason Curran
Communications Specialist
David Suzuki Foundation
Cell: 604-961-9591

August 26, 2009