Posts Tagged ‘community gardens’

Gardens Grow Inclusion and Community Connections

April 23, 2015



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. (more…)

Gardens Grow Green Communities

April 22, 2015

cat photos 2014 133
It has been our experience that a garden always gives back more than it receives. At House of Friendship this becomes clearer each spring as different communities and people connected to us start coming together to plan, to plant, to work and to celebrate. So many things come sprouting up from the gardens beside the vegetables: friendships, inclusion, new skills, laughter, stronger neighbourhood connections, healthier minds and bodies.

Giving Back on Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, celebrated around the world as a time to give back to the natural world around us and to promote greater environmental protection. It is one small way to give back to the world around us and to start up conversations about how we can continue to work towards greater stewardship of the environment- not just on Earth Day, but all year long. (more…)

Gardens Grow Healthy Food!

April 21, 2015

Today is the second day of our garden series on the blog. Yesterday we highlighted the different ways you get involved in the many different garden related activities at House of Friendship. Deb shared her experiences in the garden and how they helped her explore new food items and eat healthy treats like Kale chips!

House of Friendship gets creative in the garden with healthy choices and ideasWe had many opportunities to harvest the bounty of the garden and turn that bounty into delicious shared meals. We grew three types of kale last year, and it was by far the most celebrated vegetable.

The day we made Kale chips was a particularly spirited day, and everyone enjoyed trying out a number of seasoning combinations and waiting for these addictive treats to be out of the oven!

Kale Chips

Ingredients: Two bunches of Kale, olive oil, sea salt, other  seasonings as desired (garlic powder, cheese, cracked black pepper, fresh or dried herbs, curry powder) (more…)

Gardens Grow With a Little Help From Friends

April 20, 2015

House of Friendship Gardeners Get Ready for the 2015 Growing Season

In a sunny room at Charles Village, members of the Supportive Housing garden team gather amongst seed packets and pots of soil. They are getting their hands dirty starting seedlings and going over last year’s efforts in the gardens that have sprouted up around the Supportive Housing buildings: Eby Village, Charles Village and Cramer House, as well as at the Charles Street Men’s Hostel.

“I learned a lot about myself last year in the garden,” says one resident. “I’m excited to be a part of it again.”

Scenes like this are common for the garden team, as they work together to plan, plant, nurture and harvest garden beds and perennial flowers throughout the season.

Would you like to help out this season?

Today marks the beginning of the garden season at the House of Friendship and on our blog and social media! Our Supportive Housing programs, Community Centres and the Emergency Food Hamper Program need your help and your green thumbs now that we have cast off the cold and the ice of winter and are looking ahead to the growing season. Each day this week we will share a little bit about our past efforts and hopes for the coming season.

Why is it important to support these creative gardening efforts? (more…)

A plot of our own

May 14, 2013
Dan tilling the garden with a rototiller on loan from the Working Centre

Dan tilling the garden with a rototiller on loan from the Working Centre

Inspired by the fantastic weather and by other gardens popping up around town, yesterday 807 staff and volunteers got our own garden ready for the year! We took plots we’ve gardened in the past but have grown a bit neglected and made them over into ready-to-plant beauties.

Matt and Raymond shovelling manure to work into the soil

Matt and Raymond shoveling manure to work into the soil

Since the gardens are shaped oddly, they aren’t really conducive to individual plots. Plus, it’s hard to grow many vegetables because we have a groundhog living right next to the garden who loves eating fresh vegetables.  Instead of planting vegetables, we are thinking of putting in nice perennials and herbs for everyone to share. The idea would be that everyone in the area can come by and snip a few herbs for their dinner. We’d have some markers indicating which herbs are which, and a display inside explaining good uses for them.


Good things growing at Eby Village

April 19, 2013

House of Friendship is very enthusiastic about community gardens—we’ve got a big one at each community centre, a small garden here at the Emergency Food Hamper Program, and one is starting up this year at Eby Village!

Eby Village is a supportive housing building run by the House of Friendship. There are 64 tenants and the staff really try to foster a good sense of community. When I visit Eby Village I can tell everyone knows each other and they all get along really well.

To continue fostering a tight knit environment and friendly atmosphere, Eby Village is taking on an urban greening project this spring and summer. They have hired a part time staff person to coordinate, and there are already fifteen tenants who are meeting weekly to plan the garden. The plan is to make raised beds at the front of Eby for vegetables, and these will be high enough to be accessible for people who have trouble bending over. In the shady back area, they are planning a woodland garden, with pathways and lots of native plants. While the front area will be fairly active as residents grow vegetable plants, the woodland garden is meant to be a calm getaway that can reduce stress for residents.

An example of an accessible garden--high enough so people in wheelchairs and with other mobility issues can easily plant and weed.

An example of an accessible garden–high enough so people in wheelchairs and with other mobility issues can easily plant and weed.

I had the opportunity to talk with Allison, the supervisor at Eby, about why they want to start the garden. She says, “the urban greening project will provide tenants with the tools and opportunity to grow their own nutritious food, rejuvenate the urban space surrounding their building and develop together as a community.”


Community Gardening

August 2, 2012

On Thursdays during the summer, I have been working all day at Sunnydale Community Centre. There are a number of things I regularly do here at this vibrant and joyful place.

Around 11:30am on Thursdays, Anton usually arrives with a big work van full of food that we have gotten donated to us from the Food Bank or Loblaws. The food is set on 2 tables out front of the Centre, and within minutes the area surrounding the Community Centre turns into a hopping marketplace. Residents from the community come to collect food for themselves and/or their family, never lacking in lots of chit chat and community-building.

Something else I was introduced to a few weeks ago was the Community Garden that is on the outskirts of the Community Centre property. Eight cultures are represented in this ten-plot garden. Families from Vietnam, Canada, Bangladesh, Lao, Russia, Ukraine, United States and Iraq all have plots to grow food that they enjoy and that is important to them. Residents share this food with one another, and also tend to each other’s plots from time to time. It is so fascinating! I love seeing the variety of cultural and ethnic foods growing locally and organically. I love how proud people are to share their culture in the form of food they can grow.

Learning about and seeing the community garden in bloom has made me curious to research and share information about the process of growing and maintaining a community garden. Here is some information I’ve found:

What is a community garden?

  • People come together to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers
  • Run by churches, community agencies, clubs, neighbourhood associations

What are the benefits of a community garden?

  • Provides recreational gardening and activity for people
  • Provides fresh fruits and vegetables to individuals and families, some of whom may not regularly have access to such food
  • Reduces green house gases since the food is grown locally and not transported
  • Individuals of all cultures and ages can garden in a community garden; this reduces age and cultural barriers and allows people to learn from and share with each other
  • Educates people on how to grow and harvest foods that they enjoy to eat
  • Creates community among people with a common goal in mind

To learn more about community gardens, visit:

  • Community Garden Council of Waterloo Region

I have also been researching about different types of community gardens, and how to make a community garden more accessible to those with more restricted mobility. Stay tuned for a post devoted to barrier-free community gardening.