What does an outdoor wood-fired communal oven have to do with a strip of land north of Concession Street?
Started ten years ago on vacant land in the Kingscourt neighbourhood, Oak Street Community Garden has evolved into much more than a place to grow vegetables. Here people from diverse backgrounds and classes share gardening advice and form friendships. There are work teams, educational workshops, communal meals and a harvest festival. The most recent project is to plant fruit trees and other food-producing plants together in a “food forest,” where anyone passing by can pick an apple or some pears.
In this time of climate emergency, when our food often gets trucked thousands of miles from giant farms, and where many people in our cities don’t know where their next meal is coming from, knowing how to grow and access healthy local food becomes really important. And in this time of social media and virtual reality, people need to find ways to get their hands dirty and have real, face-to-face contact with others.
Adding a communal oven to the garden will be an important step toward these goals. We know from many examples around the world that an outdoor public oven is a “story magnet.” The combination of flames, good food and sunlight becomes a crucible for sociability.
Clarke and Tim built the oven over the spring and summer. The rocket stove heat source is extremely efficient. It uses very little wood to get up to pizza-appropriate temperatures and burns cleanly, so there is very little carbon emitted into the atmosphere.
Despite the fact that many of the materials where donated, the oven still cost Tim and Clarke over $900. That means we’re going to need to make that money back through donations and other revenue streams over the next few months. What we would love to be able to do is not have to ask the garden for “rent” on the oven when used for garden events, or ask eaters to donate cash “by the slice.”
Funded by Kingston, ON (September 2019)