We are Rebuilding!

Park Oven Rebuild

In the summer, we announced that we were the lucky recipients of a $25,000 grant from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation that will help fund two major projects. At that time, we asked you to stay tuned for workshop schedules and additional details as we worked to further grow, and enhance this awesome community hub.

So, it is with great excitement, that we are now able to announce the details and schedule for the first major project – the rebuilding the Park Oven through a series of public workshops. Registration for the workshops is now open. Workshops will be free of charge, and open to the public (see details below).

The construction of the new Park Oven is a partnership between the Leighton Dillman Park Oven, Garden, and Orchard Association, and two local experts in natural building construction; Kim Thompson from The Deanery Project, and Volker Klum from Pictou County Stone.

Park Oven Rebuild Workshop Details

Nov 1st – stage 1:  Join with us as we share stories from the first three years of our beloved Park Oven’s existence, and start the process of dismantling the current oven to make way for the new oven construction. Participants will also receive an introduction to working with clay, and will play an active role in preparing for the construction of the new oven.  Hot drinks and light snacks will be provided.

Stage 1 registration: https://parkovenrebuildstage1.eventbrite.ca

Nov 7th – stage 2:  Participants will receive an introduction to earth ovens, cob, and will play an active role in the creation of the thermal layer for the new oven. There will be lots of fun activities including the building of  “mini ovens”.  Hot drinks and light snacks will be provided.

Stage 2 registration: https://parkovenrebuildstage2.eventbrite.ca

Note: Participation in all sessions is recommended but not required. Early registration notice for stage 3 to be held in spring 2016 will be made available to participants who attended both stages 1 and 2.

There are a limited number of seats available – register now!

Details on the second project will be announced at a later time.

Growing, Together.

PACO is pleased to announce that today we received a grant of $25,000 through TD Canada Friends of the Environment Foundation!  We’re thrilled that the grant will help us to build upon the great work our community volunteers, supporters and partners have achieved in 3 short years.

The grant will help fund two major projects. The first will be building our knowledge of cob-construction which will enable us to repair the structural damage to the oven that’s occurred since it was built, and to offer community members and volunteers the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to maintain or create cob structures. This will allow PACO to become more self-sufficient, and to offer multimedia resources to those interested in community building, space-making and traditional building methods.

The support from TD FEF will also enable us to expand on the urban orchard, a project that was initiated through a partnership with our local municipal government, Sierra Club Canada, and Trees Canada. Our plan is to plant more trees and shrubs this fall, with hopes of almost doubling the number of trees producing edibles in Leighton Dillman Park.

Stay tuned for workshop schedules and additional details as we work to further grow and enhance this awesome community hub.

Are you interested in learning about volunteer opportunities with PACO? Email paco@parkoven.ca

Project Elements:

  • Community Cob-building Workshop
    • Costs include supplies, food, professional fees, coordinator honorarium, video production.
  • Urban Orchard Expansion
    • Costs include Arboretum signage +identification plaques, orchard site map + interactive panel, research + design fees, nut/berry trees + bushes, Belgian fencing, coordinator honorarium.

Spring season soft-launch: Saturday, May 2

On Saturday, May 2nd PACO will host our first Open Oven of the season. After a long (lonnnnnng) winter we’re excited to kick off another season of baking in the park.  During a recent inspection of the oven Tim confirmed what many of us suspected – our crack has grown.  While it’s been around since the beginning, the little crack has grown into a bit of a structural problem. Together with/because of the shifting brick archway, it’s looking more and more like we’ll have to do some repair/rebuilding work this season. Likely a rebuild of the dome portion of the oven. Given that this work requires warmer, drier weather, we’re tentatively planning for an early-June start to this work.  Until then we plan to host our weekly burns and accommodate any booking requests we receive.  Watch for more information about June’s schedule and an update on the dome work. The oven should be ready for baking by noon this Saturday.  As usual, we welcome everyone interested in baking to come out between 12 and 3.  See you in the park!

Garden Meeting & Work Party: May 17th

We’re back! With our 2014 season officially kicking off early this month, signs of spring becoming more present everyday and traffic in the park ramping up, PACO and our friends at Dartmouth Common Community Gardens are planning a Garden Meeting and Work Party for Saturday, May 17th at 12:00 noon.  Interested in gardening in the park?  Want to help spruce up the plots or just catch up with your gardening friends?    Come by Saturday (the forecast sounds amazing).

Slow Food NS Event, Oct. 20th

On Sunday October 20th, Slow Food members, Craig Flinn, Brady Muller, and Peter Jackson, will host a cooking demo on the many different ways to use a wood fired oven to cook wonderful food other than PIZZA!

Brady Muller, one of the caretakers of this community oven, will give a brief history of the oven as well as prepare a dish. Peter and Craig will chime in with some dishes of their own. Since October is Slow Fish month in Nova Scotia and the rest of Canada, expect something marine in the overall mix of Good, Clean, and Fair food. The demo will be interactive and casual, so bring lots of questions as well as your appetite. You can check out the oven at www.parkoven.ca.

Following the demo, anyone wishing to cook something they bring from home can give it a try as well. As Brady has stated, once the oven is lit it stays hot for a long time…shame to waste the heat!

Details and Housekeeping:

The Park Avenue Community Oven is located in the Leighton Dillman Park on the Dartmouth Commons. The Dartmouth Common Community Gardens and Oven are directly inside the gate off Park Avenue.

Sunday October 20th 12 noon to approximately 3:00 pm

Please bring a plate and cutlery (camper style) as well as a portable chair

There are NO WASHROOMS ON SITE…please be aware of this fact before arriving

Non-alcoholic beverages only (this is a public park)…water will be supplied by organizers

Cost is $25 per member; $30 per non-member, cash only

See this post and registration information at Slow Food Nova Scotia


Almost every week an adventurous oven-goer arrives with a new recipe, dish, food they want to try out. There have been far more successes than failures and we’re working to build up a section of this site to house recipes that have been tried, tasted and proven PACO-friendly.  Check out our Recipes page, which, for now, feature recipes from past workshops hosted by PACO volunteer and local chef Brady Muller.

Help us populate this new page!  If you’ve had success with a recipe and would like to share it with PACO, please send it to us in an email (we’ll credit every source!).

Where to buy your picnic in downtown Dartmouth

Harvest Fest is putting a twist on the IncrEDIBLE Picnic inviting picnickers to drop by a local business on their way to the park, choose their favourites from a host of options from either the Saturday farmers market at Alderney Landing or a local business.

A number of local business will be preparing special dishes to cook in the oven.

Businesses offering ready to bake pizzas are:

  • Pie R Squared (at Alderney Market)
  • Revana (29 Portland St.)
  • Hungry Hut (135 Ochterloney St.)
  • Big Life (84 Portland St.)
  • Wooden Monkey (Alderney Ferry Terminal and offering a 15% discount!)

Other special offers near to the oven:

  • Nectar (62 Ochterloney St.)
    – Spicy pork wrap with fresh herb yogurt sauce ($7) – tin foil wrapped to be re-warmed in the oven.

More picnic offerings within walking distance:

  • Midday Bistro (55 Portland St.)
  • Caroline’s Bakery (79 Alderney Dr.)
  • Alderney Market
  • Celtic Corner (69 Alderney Dr.)
  • Ma Belle’s Cafe (44 Ochterloney St.)
  • Just Us! (at King’s Wharf, Alderney Dr.)
  • Two if by Sea (66 Ochterloney St.)

*From 3:00 – 6:00 The Food Wolf will be parked nearby selling their incredible food-on-wheels made with local ingredients.

Harvest Fest Schedule

Planning to attend Harvest Fest on Saturday, September 14th?  Here’s what we have scheduled:


  • Open Oven #1 begins
  • Guest speakers 1 & 2 “Welcome”
  • HRM Recreation activities begin
  • Bedford Brass Quintet plays


  • Open Oven #1 continues
  • HRM Recreation activities
  • Bedford Brass Quintet plays on


  • Open Oven #1 continues
  • HRM Recreation activities continue
  • Bedford Brass Quintet plays on


  • Open Oven #1 continues
  • HRM Recreation activities continue
  • Bedford Brass Quintet plays on


  • Open Oven #1 continues
  • HRM Rec activities end
  • Bedford Brass end
  • Halifax Public Libraries Children’s story-time begins
  • Guest speaker #3


  • Open Oven #1 ends; oven is re-lit.
  • Oven training
  • Children’s face-painting begins
  • Children’s story-time continues
  • Guest speaker #4: Debra Dickey, Dartmouth Family Centre


  • Oven training continues
  • Guest speaker #5: Gena Arthur, Eco-Developments
  • Children’s face-painting continues
  • HPL Children’s story-time continues
  • Yoga begins w/ Mandee from yogaheart.ca


  • Oven training continues
  • Children’s face-painting ends
  • Guest speaker #6: Billy Lewis, Dartmouth Common Community Gardens
  • HPL Children’s story-time continues


  • Open Oven #2 begins
  • HPL Children’s story-time ends
  • Bill Wood Magic Show begins


  • Open Oven #2 continues
  • Bill Wood Magic Show continues


  • Open Oven #2 continues
  • Bill Wood Magic Show ends
  • Ceti Alpha perform



  • Event wraps-up; pack-up and clean-up begin.


Saturday, Sept. 14th: Harvest Fest / IncrEDIBLE Picnic!

That’s right! The PACO community has been busy pulling together a celebration of all things Dartmouth, fresh and local.  An (early) Harvest Fest!  Big thanks to the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission and the Alderney Farmers Market for assisting in the coordination; and thanks to Select Nova Scotia and the Dartmouth Community Health Board, whose support is allowing us to put this great event together!  Mark your calendars and plan to drop by the park on September 14th between 12 noon and 6:00 PM. What should you expect?


Like our regular Open Oven’s on Saturday we’ll have a hot oven for those interested, to cook their favourites starting at noon.  A second burn will take place mid-afternoon for a second cooking time around 4:00.

While we’ll be firing the oven and baking some delicious pretzels for picnickers, local businesses in and around downtown Dartmouth will be selling ready-to-bake goodies that you can pick up en route to the oven.  There’ll be variety in price and taste, something for everyone, so watch this space for a soon-to-be-complete map indicating where to buy what.  There’s rumour that there could be a food truck or two for those of you who prefer your food on wheels….


What’s a picnic without some amusements?  There’ll be some guest speakers sharing their wisdom about local food, community health and the neighbourhood.  Kids can enjoy some organized activities, a story-circle and some face-painting.  There’ll even be a bit of dinner music!

As we finalize a few last minute details, a full schedule will be posted.  Please visit this site again soon and make plans to join us in the park on the 14th!

What’s New PACO?

PACO is well into it’s first full season hosting our regular weekly Open Ovens every Saturday (weather permitting).  Those interested in volunteering can come by at 10 each Saturday for training and stick around to cook with our volunteers and others from the community.

Local chef Brady Muller – a committed and enthusiastic PACO volunteer – is hosting bi-weekly workshops where local chefs teach attendees how to make local food meals in the oven to demonstrate its versatility (PACO can cook more than just pizza!).

Another committed volunteer – Ali – has been meeting with HRM Parks to hopefully have signage around the oven and the adjacent community garden to describe the projects and our desire to have the community make use of this truly wonderful addition to the beautiful Leighton Dillman Park.

Alderney Market vendor Pie R Squared has begun selling pre-made, ready-to-bake pizzas (gluten-free options available) so people can take the ferry to Dartmouth, stop at the market en route to the oven and cook their pizza in Nova Scotia’s first outdoor community wood-fired oven.

The group  is still seeking dedicated volunteers interested in learning how to fire the oven and support PACO by helping to host community events and accommodate requests from groups who want to use the oven throughout the week.  Interested?  Email us or just come on down!

PACO will be hosting a Harvest Celebration on a Saturday in early September with support from the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission, the Dartmouth Community Health Board and Select Nova Scotia. Details will be announced soon and will be available here as they are confirmed.