The waitlist for those looking to tend to a plot in a Waterloo region community garden has grown to an estimated 1,000 people.

According to the chair of the Waterloo Region Community Garden Network, the list is made up of more than just hobbyists; Doug Jones said rising food prices are also spurring demand.

“The concerns about food insecurity are really, really pronounced,” said Jones in an interview with CTV News.

As of this week, Jones said there were 98 community gardens in Waterloo region and about 1,600 gardeners working at those gardens.

Jones wants to see more gardens setup to help meet the gardening demand and avoid discouraging would-be gardeners left waiting on a list.

“We think that growing food locally is really important,” said Jones. “The health benefits are obvious and the ways to address food insecurity are there as well.”


Getting a little dirty is half the fun for avid gardeners like Silvio Mena, happy to enjoy the fruits of his labour.

“Oh, it tastes much better,” said Mena. “That’s the main reason, or one of the main reasons I decided to have my plot here.”

Mena waited three years on a waitlist to get a plot to garden at the Queen’s Green Community Garden in Kitchener near Victoria Park.

Mena points to food access and the health benefits of fresh produce as key factors behind his desire to join the community garden.

“I’m living in a building and I don’t have a place to grow anything so, I was very happy when I heard the garden was here,” said Mena.

For local organizers like Jones, the aim is to reduce long waits like the one faced by Mena.

His long-term aim, is to have a community garden 15 minutes walking distance of everyone within the urban areas of Waterloo Region.


Municipal grants are available to help start community gardens.

The City of Kitchener offers assistance through its Love My Hood team, offering a matching fund Neighbourhood Grant program.

Projects on city property are eligible for up to $30,000 and those on private land are eligible for up to $10,000 while events are capped at $2,000.

The Region of Waterloo also promotes the benefits of community gardens including easier access to affordable food, food skill development and the enhancement of more inclusive neighbourhoods.