Gardens Grow Inclusion and Community Connections

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Rewarding community connections are often growing side by side with tomatoes in the gardens at our supportive housing programs. “It’s nice to be in the garden with your friends, planting in the sun and talking to your seedlings.” A resident recently shared with us. Indeed, a lot is possible with a strong community, a generous spirit and some ingenuity.

image2Speaking about her experiences with the Supportive Housing garden programs last year, Catherine shared that, “Watching relationships grow alongside the plants themselves was certainly one of the most rewarding aspects of the garden project.

Tenants who may have lived next to each other for years and only exchanged simple greetings have come to work side by side on watering or weeding the gardens. New friendships developed as people nurtured plants together and shared their knowledge, and as everyone navigated all the surprises, challenges and rewards that the garden can provide.”

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“We tried to maintain a variety of garden styles throughout, from raised bed and container gardening to an experiment with growing plants in straw bales. (Spoiler: it wasn’t the most successful endeavour but was fun to learn about!) Growing plants and taking care of them also allowed people to get outside, challenge themselves and their ideas about what they can do, and to have fun in the process.”

At the Emergency Food Hamper Program our garden is a focal point of community interaction.  Discussions with participants on the challenges of getting things to grow at home, the culinary uses of squash vines in the home country and how to identify and use different herbs are all common place.  These interactions change the dynamic and transform someone who is receiving service into someone with something to share, breaking down barriers and building trust between complete strangers.

How you can help

You can be a part of this story by volunteering with our community and helping build on the efforts of the last three years.  Do you want to see a more inclusive community where everyone has something to share? You can share tools or time to make it happen.

Supportive Housing would appreciate extra watering cans, work gloves, stakes, twine, mulch, gardening ‘foam’ mats (to assist with kneeling in the garden), and is always happy to have extra potting or top soil.

We are also seeking volunteer support, in many different forms: enthusiastic gardeners willing to spend time in the gardens working alongside residents, skilled green thumbs who could share a workshop or an information session, or even driving to the Region landfill to pick up some compost and help us load it onto the garden beds. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just a community minded individual with a few extra hours to spare, we could use your support!

Community Gardens As a participant from our community gardens, Andrea, recently shared: “We absolutely enjoyed the community garden, the fresh food and being able to do it ourselves.” They would welcome assistance with tomato cages, a fan rake, a shovel, a hose caddy on wheels, mulch, chicken wire, perennials, fruit bushes, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs like basil or dill.

The Emergency Food Hamper Program would benefit from shovels, watering cans, clippers, twine and a garden fork.  We could also make use of  raspberry canes, wildflowers, herbs like mint, oregano, basil, lemon balm, dill, parsley and thyme.  All of these things will help us get some demonstration projects off the ground.  Stay tuned for more details about how these will help the many families that turn to us for help.

“I think that if we come together as a community, we can do good things. Especially right now with all this Ion construction, we all need to get outside together and walk around! I think that if people have gardening tricks that they could share with us, that would be awesome. Then we could celebrate with the neighbourhood with a big garden party. Celebrate the garden and all the growing things.” Deb W, Eby Village resident

How to get in touch

If you have gardening expertise to share (or an interest in getting some)  or have something to donate please contact Matt at 519-570-3976 or  mattc@houseoffriendship.org or send us a tweet @HOF_housing

Not sure how you would like to help, or interested in learning more? Stay tuned to this space each day this week as we shed some sunlight on different ways you can make a difference and make this region a little greener and more inclusive!

 

 

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2 Responses to “Gardens Grow Inclusion and Community Connections”

  1. Gardens Grow Volunteer Engagement | Hofemergencyfoodassistance's Blog Says:

    […] Extending the hand of friendship to our neighbours in need since 1939 « Gardens Grow Inclusion and Community Connections […]

  2. guelphstreetgarden Says:

    Reblogged this on Guelph Street Garden and commented:
    This is a great series of blogs about community gardens from the House of Friendship Emergency Food Hamper Assistance program. Every community garden can learn something about how these dedicated gardeners work together!

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