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City of Toronto Workers Destroy Free Community Food Garden Amid Growing Food Crisis

Occupy Gardens plants in Queens Park destroyed without harvesting food

by Jacob Kearey-Moreland

An Occupy Gardens supporter was passing by Queens Park on her way to work when she saw workers taking down the gardens. She took these photos.
An Occupy Gardens supporter was passing by Queens Park on her way to work when she saw workers taking down the gardens. She took these photos.
Occupy Gardens was going to harvest the food tomorrow for their "Autumn Jam: A Harvest Party"
Occupy Gardens was going to harvest the food tomorrow for their "Autumn Jam: A Harvest Party"
The Harvest Party will still happen tomorrow, but the harvest has been destroyed.
The Harvest Party will still happen tomorrow, but the harvest has been destroyed.
The Garden was planted on May 1st during North America-wide Occupy Protests
The Garden was planted on May 1st during North America-wide Occupy Protests
City of Toronto Workers Destroy Free Community Food Garden Amid Growing Food Crisis
City of Toronto Workers Destroy Free Community Food Garden Amid Growing Food Crisis
City of Toronto Workers Destroy Free Community Food Garden Amid Growing Food Crisis
City of Toronto Workers Destroy Free Community Food Garden Amid Growing Food Crisis
City of Toronto Workers Destroy Free Community Food Garden Amid Growing Food Crisis

Toronto, Friday Sept 28th, 10am 

Amid a growing food crisis, this morning workers from the City of Toronto were ordered by City of Toronto

 Parks Director Richard Ubbens to remove all live plants and food from the People's Peas Garden in Queens Park. They were ordered to take the plants and food to the dump and lay sod overtop of this most beautiful free community food garden, without warning, without a chance to remove the rare heirloom plant species or harvest the food. 

The garden was planted by Occupy Gardens and allies on May 1st, in defense of local and global food security. While the garden has been growing undisturbed for nearly 5 months, with the help of hundreds in the community, the city deliberately decided to have it removed upon the eve of the Autumn Jam: A Harvest Party and celebration of sharing, community and free local food, which is happening tomorrow from 12-6pm at the garden in Queens Park (northwest section). 

The reason? The people did not have permission to grow free food on public land. I come from a city and country where one does not need permission to do the right thing. We are experiencing a "glocal" food crisis, where more and more people are lining up at food banks for kraft dinner and peanut butter, waiting lists for community gardens are growing, food prices rising, and our leaders are nowhere to be seen. Rather they are hiding behind their desk ordering the workers to destroy whatever hope we have left. 

We need help sharing this story far and wide.

We will be having our Autumn Jam harvest party/vigil tomorrow as scheduled from 12noon-6pm in the northwest section of Queens Park. 

As a side note - last Monday Sept 17th gardeners travelled to Ottawa on a Peas Keeping mission for national, global food security, where we planted a free heart-shaped food garden on Parliament Hill, at which point the RCMP stomped on the plants and threatened arresting people, we removed the plants and relayed the sod. 

Thanks so much for your time and help,

In Peas, Lovage & SOILidarity!

Jacob Kearey-Moreland
647 379 2324

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Toronto Community Garden Destroyed

The City of Toronto should have given the gardeners notice to harvest what they could and remove the rest to another site. The thought of food and people's hard work being destoyed really bothers me. Many Canadians are either hungry or have  inadequate nutrition which leads to health problems.

Here in my own community of Halifax, NS it is all too common for university students to not be able to afford groceries. A staff member at one of local universites recently told me that she was concerned because all the student union led food bank had left to give students was bread and onions. I can't believe this is happening in Canada but apparently - it is!

  I just started a petition


I just started a petition on to stop this process!


Petition is on

Title: City of Toronto Parks Director Richard Ubbens

Please share!

I'm from Seattle, and the Beacon Food Forest is a growing success and partnership with city officials!


I'll sign the petition, but

I'll sign the petition, but this and BFF are not the same thing. BFF was coordinated with city officials, while this was done with no coordination and, seemingly, to spite community officials. I am certain that if this had been done in a legal manner from the start, the destruction of the garden would never have occurred.


The gardeners have only themselves to blame.


After reading the "petition,"

After reading the "petition," I have decided not to sign it. It exudes childish anger and will do so much more harm than good for the Community Food movement. I wish you could realize that.

Trying to use this issue as your personal soapbox issue is going to entrench city government and make it so much harder for gardens to exist. You are doing a bad thing.

Resistance Begets Resistance...

My wife and I are organic, non-GMO, non-hybrid, heirloom only gardeners who love to see folks with a passion for sharing their love of natural gardening with others simply out of that love. This story leaves important details out that this reader would like to know, as the contextual details are a bit sketchy.

Why did they plant vegetables without permission on land set aside for use as a public park (and not a community food garden)?

Did they even seek permission from those who administer the park?

Did they (Occupy Gardens) seek alternative locations that the city may have had for such a garden?

Did they seek private land on which to plant a community garden?

What is the significance of their destroying public property (the park lawn) on Mayday?

Would it have any connection with the communist/socialist/anarchist celebrations on the same day?

Did they commit this act of defacing public property, acting contary to the rule of law, with the hopes of reaping resistance from the city?

What was their purpose for planting this garden?

What was the purpose for doing so without permission?

Context is EVERYTHING! Would the writer of this article please supply the readers with the necessary background details to make an informed decision as what to make of this? The article clearly portrays these "gardeners" as victims of government oppression, but is that really the truth?

I read your comment and only

I read your comment and only assumed that they ahd some sort of permit to do this. If not, it is hard to blame the city official when his / her job is to protect the integrity of the public use park.


Sure the garden was for everyone, but I would not want every park in the city to become a garden.


  I just started a petition


I just started a petition on to stop this process!


Petition is on

Title: City of Toronto Parks Director Richard Ubbens

Please share!

I'm from Seattle, and the Beacon Food Forest is a growing success and partnership with city officials!


This is awful!

It's especially terrible for this to happen. How can they do this? Did they have the proper permits to farm in the park? I am assuming so, since it would be illegal to destroy / deface public property without a legal right to do so.

It is shameful that the city would destroy a legal and free garden.

What is a  "legal

What is a  "legal "garden?

When the government says , you can't have a garden in your  yard will pesons like yourself suggest, well "you must get rid of it" after all it would be an "illegal garden"

What has happened to the thought processes of individuals here in Canada??

But that's not what happened

But that's not what happened here... no one was chastised for growing a garden in their own yard. They planted a garden on a lawn in a public park, "apparently" without permission. The motive for doing so is not clear, because the author left that part of the story out.

"What has happened to the thought processes of the people in Canada?" Good question. I think it's called "Public Schooling"... they don't teach folks to reason for themselves, ask intelligent questions and to reason from cause to effect.

If the garden was grown on

If the garden was grown on private property or on property where they had permission from the owners, it would be a whole different story. I assumed that they did have the proper permits. I think that you mis-read my statement. If they had the proper permits, then what happened was awful.


Y u mad, bro?

"Y u mad, bro?" Me no mad.

"Y u mad, bro?"

Me no mad. :o)

lol   I was asking the



I was asking the previos poster. Good u no mad, bro.

I manage a public garden, and

I manage a public garden, and if someone showed up and tore up part of the lawn without asking, you can be damn sure it would get fixed.  People who manage public parks and gardens invest their emotional energy into providing a beautiful space to be enjoyed by the public at large, and it's insulting to assume that the manager of the Toronto Parks Dept is some sort of jackbooted nazi type instead of a reasonable human being.  

I'm fully in support of the Occupy movement, but the problem from the beginning imho has been a lack of creative and cooperative steps toward creating solutions.  Without direction and forward momentum, the movement quickly devolved into a bunch of entitled middle-class prissy white kids sitting on street corners and demanding some sort of poorly defined "change," without having the gumption to either use aggressive tactics or to create cooperation and outreach within the community.  Every successful social change movement has employed at least one of these tactics; absent that, it becomes routine for the authorities to come in and mop em up.

So Occupy Toronto was halfway there - they developed a cooperative, communally based movement to do something constructive like planting a free community garden.  But then they failed to contact someone from the park and get permission??  If someone came to me in my capacity as a garden manager and said, "We've got a bunch of great volunteers who want to plant a free community garden and we would like to use part of your grassy area to do so," I would say, "Great! let me show you where would be an acceptable place to do so, where you won't be cutting any sprinkler lines with shovels or screwing up the flow that's intended to draw visitors through our garden space.  Let's reroute sprinkler lines so that your community garden can be on the automatic watering system.  Here are some tools and maybe even some professional help to get you going."  

But they just show up one day, tear out some grass, possibly cut sprinkler lines, and do other damage and then they're surprised when the park manager has it torn out??  Guerrilla gardening is awesome, but it's only effective in otherwise abandoned spaces.  A public park managed by a functional park authority is certainly not abandoned, and there would have been a better way of doing this.

Effective possibly as a protest method, but not sustainable in the long term.  A great example at the micro level of the general failings of Occupy at the macro level.

hang on,. a couple of people

hang on,. a couple of people are asking 'was it legal in the first place?' to grow food.. FREE FOOD.. on public land..are you kidding me? the people who planted the garden clearly have the right idea. to hell with the law when the 'law' isn't working.  if people are hungry, they should be fed. simple. if the law does not provide for those that are hungry, are the people wrong for starving? this is what happens when a tiny minority of churlish naysayers (usually deluded middle class NIMBY types) start rattling their teeth at what is quite obviously a consciencious group of people that rather than roll over cars and smash shop windows decide to get proactive to actually help. what has the world come to when some jobsworth makes an executive decision to order in the gestapo to stamp out a collective effort to meet an obvious failing of the government? the bit that really disappoints me is the 'boots on the ground' and those wearing them. what must they have been thinking as they stamped someones dinner into the dirt? jeez.. the day has finally come hasn't it. the one we all dreaded.. you'd rather see people go hungry and useful land go to waste because for some  (bizarre) reason.. ya gotta obey the law.. even when it is patently wrong.

please don't misunderstand me on this.. i am all for laws that work. the laws that work are the ones society endorses and for the betterment of humanity..

thanks you crustysurfer!!

"a couple of people are asking 'was it legal in the first place?' to grow food.. FREE FOOD.. on public land..are you kidding me?"


nail meet hammer!

I was reading those comments and I thought, how completely absurd that anyone would question the  correct and right thinking of creating a public garden on public lands

It is absurd to think, "grass" constitutes" appropriate public space use vs food production for human consumption


Clearly the Toronto "government" had this garden removed for purely political reasons.


a: enforce the rule of their tyranny

b: ensure that the people get the message of remaining dependant on food banks  and handouts, etc


Clearly people have lost their "common" sense or those types of comments would not have even been made

I believe your "common sense"

I believe your "common sense" is why the garden was destroyed in the first place. If you have no respect for laws, don't expect law to have any respect for you.

I just started a petition on to stop this process!


Petition is on

Title: City of Toronto Parks Director Richard Ubbens

Please share!

I'm from Seattle, and the Beacon Food Forest is a growing success and partnership with city officials!

Whoa, horsey....

Crusty & Penny,

I was asking questions to fill in the blanks left by the author for info that would inform readers as to what the motives actually were for this garden. Was it for food bank clientel? I don't know, 'cuz the author didn't say! Please take a breath or two and re-read my previous post without emotional offence.

It should be clear to anyone reading this article that not all of the necessary facts are revealed to make an honest assessment of the situation, hence my questions.

What is more absurd, to ask questions or to make assumptions?

Is it legal or appropriate for one or more persons to commandeer the property of another (or "public" property) just because they are convinced of the goodness of their intentions? Maybe I have a use for your computer that I think is a really benificent purpose... should I just take it from you, or should I get some form of agreement or partnership?


I am going to address

I am going to address "satisfied" and Juan Carlo at the same time-


What were the motives of the garden??

Are you serious?

When i asked where is the common sense or critical thinking and you ask such an irrational question

Are you going to tell me that humans producing food for human consumption is anything but a basic human right? Inherent to humanity upon their birth as the very basis of human survival?

Were the "commandeering" the property?

You want to talk about emotional rhetoric and all, the use of that word "commandeering" was intended to create.


It is clear the garden grew in that area the entire growing season, attended to by the public gardeners. Why did the city wait until the harvest to take it out?

Because it is clearly waging a psychological "mind control" game against the people who grew the garden, that would be the public, on a public space.


The message is your labour was for not, the product of your labour is garbage

The disgrace of this act, and the message it sends to the people is completely lost on you.

How many food banks does Toronto have? How many people could have benefitted from this food, not just the people who would eat it, or could have eaten it. But the people who were actually engaging in a community activity for the benefit of the community at large


Juan Carlo "respect for the law" etc

Circular reasoning


The two things I take away from reading Juan Carlo and "Satisfied" is that these are two well conditioned thinkers. By that I mean your thinking skills are conditioned by the flavour of the day

Not by common sense, not by critical thinking skills by the conditioning of the Politics at hand.

If a law is bad, there is no reason to respect it.

I used the rhetorical example that if the city passed a law "you cannot have a garden" on your own property -- Juan Carlo and Satisfied would both be mimicking "well it is the law"

conditioned thinking..

I can’t speak for Satisfied,

I can’t speak for Satisfied, but I was quite serious when I asked about the motives of the garden. If food alone was the purpose of the garden and the motive for planting, then yield should be the overall goal. Correct?


If yield is the overall goal, then why would the gardeners risk the yield by not creating the garden in a legal manner? I realize that you are very emotional about this and, apparently, in a state of detestation of authority. However, the world in which we live is one where laws exist. If laws are not followed, then one can expect there to be repercussions. I am not saying that I agree with it, but I am saying that it is a fact.


And, let’s be honest. Toronto is one of the most liberal cities in the world, and the city government would have been more than accommodating. I am sure that you will post a reply stating that my statement is untrue, but that would be a poor argument since no one asked in the first place. Cooperation is always better than failure, correct?


You make a statement saying that my earlier quote about the law is a “circular argument.” I am assuming that to mean that you believe that law must respect you before you should respect it. However, in a democratic society, that is not how things work. If you disagree with a law, then you cannot simply break it. You must have it changed. If you do not play by the rules of the game, then you are going to lose the game. That is what has happened here.


The quote you made about a law making all gardens illegal is simply ridiculous. Why not argue about a law stating you must wear blue on Thursday? The reason that it is ridiculous is that no laws like that would ever be proposed, much less passed. Laws have a basis in the reasoning of the times. At no time will the reasoning of the masses state that gardens should be illegal.


I appreciate public gardens, and the gardens I have been a part of in the past have flourished. The reason they flourished is that we worked with the powers that be instead of trying to turn them against us.


You call me a “conditioned thinker.” I think that is a fictional term you use to denigrate anyone who does not agree with you. Rationality and logic are things I am proud to say I possess, and I do not rant with pure thoughtless emotion like you seem to be doing. You say that the authorities waited until harvest before destroying it, but the author has stated to several sources that food was coming out of the garden and onto peoples’ plates for a while. Therefore, it seems pretty clear that the city gave the gardeners five months unmolested before they did their civic duty by reclaiming the park and correcting the vandalism that occurred. I know that you do not see it this way, and I know that you will rebuke the idea of "civic duty," but it is what happened.


You keep calling the park “public space.” However, it is not public space. It is a public park owned and administered by the city. You may disagree with the concept of a public park being owned and administered by the city, but that is how it is. It is unfortunate of you cannot see this for the truth that it is. If I wanted to churn up the whole thing and turn it into a Monster Truck track, would that be OK since it would bring happiness to many people? After all, the right to be happy is a fundamental human right asserted from birth. Of course it would not be acceptable. While you will certainly say that food and a Monster Truck track are not the same thing (And, I agree with that.) you must admit that your argument for the commandeering (You dislike this word, but it is grammatically appropriate.) the park’s land and my argument for commandeering the park’s land are identical.


You claim to be the one with the common sense and the critical thinking skills. If that is the case, then why was your community garden (I am only assuming that you were a part of this project due to the emotion you show.) destroyed while mine it still standing and was recently harvested? The answer is simple. I and my friends used common sense, critical thinking skills, and played by the rules of the game.


If you really are a part of the group responsible for this garden, then I can see why it failed. You never really wanted it to succeed. You wanted to destroy government property under the pretense of creating a community food garden. My friends and I invited the government and the community to join us in creating a community food garden. We were successful, and you were not. The reasons why appear to be evident. We sought to create food for people, and you sought to create attention for yourselves. In the end, all you did was damage the community food movement and make it that much harder for people to create community gardens in the city of Toronto.

Good Reading...

I think some folks here may find the book by the late Harry Browne, the former U.S. Presidential candidate for the Libertarian party, enlightening. It's called "How I Found Freedom In an Unfree World".  It teaches personal responsibility and reveals the failings of the entitlement mindset, that mindset that expects that others owe them something, whether it be a job, respect, welfare, medical treatment, or even a place to plant a garden.

Sure, taking personal responsability for one's decisions isn't as glamorous as making yourself a victim of "tyrannical" city officials, but it does help you understand the principles that make life work and allows you to get on with your life rather than get stuck on false crusades.

The more I read about this,

The more I read about this, the more I understand that this was not about food. This was intentionally done in an illegal manner. I would like to know why.

Was it done specifically so that it could be destroyed in an attempt to play the victim? If food was really the issue, then why would it not have been done legally in order to avoid what happened?

If it was done as a form of protest or civil disobedience, then the garden was nothing mroe than vandalism. Some vandalism, such as grafitti or street art, can be beautiful. Nevertheless, it is still vandalism.

The good intentions of the garden were done in by the malicious intentions of the gardeners.


I got the same sense, Juan.

I got the same sense, Juan. If they wanted to grow food for themselves or others, then why didn't they do it in a place where that could be accomplished productively? However, if they wanted to portray themselves as righteous victims of evil government by grabbing a tiger by the tail, then I'd kindly ask them NOT to do it under the guise of growing food, community gardens, organics, or the like.

There's an ancient unswerving principle that says that you know what seeds were planted by the harvest that was reaped. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of community gardens that were organized for the purpose of effectively producing food that are doing just that. This "garden" in Toronto is by far a different story.

This was 'Occupy' Gardens

You'll note that this garden was planted by "occupy" gardens and hence is part of the Occupy movement.  The gardeners were active in the St. James Park occupy Toronto action last year. Occupiers did not get permits to coccupy, nor did they get permits to plant this garden originally, as that would kind of be against the point of occupy.  The garden was planted on some open earth from a tree that had been removed and hence did no damage to the park in the first palce.  The garden was planted on May 1st during the day of protests for international workers day and was a political garden intended to draw attention to the lack of food security in the city, the lack of availible garden space and in the City and the very cumbersome permit proccess for community gardens that takes years.  I will be writing a follow up article about this garden, this is only a press release. (note: i do not represent Occupy Gardens in any way and am only a reporter who has been covering this, this is my interpretation of this issue)

Toronto Media Co-op covered the mayday protests, including the planting of this garden, here in this story:

as well as live-updating this story as events occured:

That makes it sad, indeed.

That makes it sad, indeed. The damage these people have done to true community gardening is beyond measure. This was a group of protesters trying to make a statement, and all they did was make it ahrder for community gardens to exist.

You are misinformed then- the

You are misinformed then- the people involved in this project have been working on all kinds of community gardens for years, Jacob even has a collumn on the subject in the Orillia newspaper. These are not just people who used community gardens as a form of protest but who are deeply invovled in commuity gardens as well.

I did not say that the

I did not say that the gardeners were not involved in other community gardens. I said that this garden in particular was done as a form of protest. This protest inflamed relations between city officials and the protestors, and the ability to create community gardens can only be harmed by this.

You can't possibly think that the city will be more apt to donate space for community gardens to these gardeners now, can you?

Thank you, Megan, this filled

Thank you, Megan, this filled in blanks left by the above article.


toronto garden destroyed

By this time, most of the garden should have been harvested, especially the peas, if they were seeded on May 1.   Also the squash, beans, and  most other stuff, except perhaps carrots and potatoes.   It's too bad they didn't ask for permission to plant the garden.  How about trying to ask for permission now, and getting a good location for next year?  Most cities will try to find a location for a community garden, provided it is looked after properly. 

Not all restaurants will

Not all restaurants will require exactly the same service regarding their facilities management. Fast-food restaurants , for example, are likely to experience significantly more camp pendleton lodging in terms of the number of customers who walk through their doors over the course of a year, compared to an expensive fine-dining establishment.

Many people think of their

Many people think of their social media as a reflection of who they are. That is true, but what people don't realize is how much of themselves is out there for others to review nutrition supplements . In the past, people put their best foot forward to their employers. There was little concern about their personal life coming to light, unless they brought their issues to work or got in trouble with the law.

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