Sometimes referred to just as Park Oven or PACO, the Park Avenue Community Oven is perhaps our most well-known initiative and opened in September 2012.
The Park Oven is a volunteer-run, wood-fired community oven that is located inside a custom built structure that transforms into a food preparation area when opened. Community members are able to cook or bake food in the oven through two unique offerings; Open Ovens and Bookings.
12-3pm every Saturday from May to late November, volunteers host the Open Ovens. This is a time when community members & groups can just drop in with food to cook and enjoy a picnic in the beautiful Leighton Dillman Park. Since 2016, the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission has loaned the Park Oven a summer student to also run Open Ovens 12-3pm every Thursday from June to August.
From May until the end of September, community members & groups are able to book the Park Oven as a venue to hold their own events. Events could be anything from a child’s birthday party, a colleague’s retirement party, or a social outing for an organisation.
Vision for the Oven
The Park Avenue Community Oven will provide an inclusive venue for community gatherings and events centered on food education and enjoyment.
Our objectives include:
- The maintenance and continuous improvement of the Park Oven, Garden, and Orchard
- Hosting events for community members
- Sharing resources and knowledge, working together for the common good
- Increasing accessibility to fruits and vegetables
Siting of the Oven
Much consideration was given to siting the structure. Below are some of the elements discussed while choosing the current site for the oven:
- Proximity to community gardens – opportunity to extend education about growing food to cooking food.
- Connection to the Dartmouth Commons Community Gardens group – an established group of individuals able to oversee, develop and maintain community oven.
- Proximity to water spigot
- Flat grade – decreases construction costs and allows for people to easily gather and sit around the oven
- Orientation – away from prevailing winds off the harbour; face the Park Avenue gate so that people will see it and feel welcomed
- Accessibility – close to the gate, along the path and on flat ground enables easy access to the site for people with mobility issues.
- Connection with the history of citizen activism in creating public spaces in Leighton Dillman Park
- Partnership with HRM Parks – support for monitoring and maintaining the site