Jo-Jo's property on Stittsville Main Street, via Google maps

Jo-Jo’s Pizza provides land for a new community garden

Here’s another interesting project in the works for Stittsville Main Street: The Kassis family, owners of Jo-Jo’s Pizza, are partnering with a group of local volunteers to help establish a community garden on Stittsville Main Street.

The family will maintain ownership of the property but allow volunteers to build and maintain the the large plot of land behind Jo-Jo’s as a “potager” or “kitchen” garden with clean, geometric lines, and will be known as “Jo-Jo’s Community Garden”.

Volunteer Kim Bonin presented the plans at Thursday night’s Stittsville Village Association meeting, and says the group hopes to break ground as soon as the snow melts, so that planting can start on the Victoria Day weekend.

The plan is to create an organic garden with a mix of veggies, fruits, herbs and flowers.  They’ve tested the soil and it’s in good shape, but needs a good layer of compost and manure to offset a high pH level.

Example of a "potager" or "kitchen" garden. Typically this style of garden has a geometric shape.
Example of a “potager” or “kitchen” garden. Typically this style of garden has a clean, geometric lines.

 

Bonin says they’ve applied for a grant of $500 from the Stittsville-Goulbourn Horticultural Society, and they’ve applied for additional funding from Just Food, a group that promotes sustainable food projects in the City of Ottawa.  The group hopes to raise as much as $22,000 from grants and fundraising to cover start-up and operating costs. (Part of that start-up budget could go towards refurbishing an old log building behind the pizza shop.)

This year’s first phase includes 14 10’x10′ plots and 20 10’x20′ plots that will be rented out to local families or individuals for about $25 per season. There’s also a strip of land set aside for a sunflower garden, and Bonin says they hope that local kids will get involved to learn more about planting and caring for gardens.

Future phases would allow for partnerships with local organizations like schools or the Stittsville Food Bank. Bonin says they have also set aside a section for Jo-Jo’s in case they want to grow fresh ingredients for their restaurant.

I talked to Zeyad Kassis last summer and he mentioned that they were hoping to find a community use for the land behind the pizza shop. A couple ideas he mentioned were for a community garden or a space for hosting outdoor movies in the summer.  A community garden is allowed under  the current traditional main street zoning along Stittsville Main.

Besides securing funding, the next step is rounding up a crew of volunteers to help with the initial building and prep of the garden, and donations of garden equipment. To get in touch:

There are over 100 community gardens in Ottawa. Here in Stittsville, there’s already garden Stittsville Main Street near Cathcart that provides fresh vegetables for the Stittsville Food Bank, and there’s also one at the Carleton Apartments on Carleton Cathcart Street that was started last summer.  There’s also a site between 67 and 77 West Ridge Drive that could be a candidate for a future community garden.

Jo-Jo’s Community Garden overview from stittsvillecentral


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