Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt!
Community gardens are popping up across Canada. In fact, one even popped up in our own backyard.
“There is something so serene about playing in the dirt,” says Laura, a client with Discovery House. Laura can often be found outside, taking care of the shrubbery and trees in our courtyard. She tells us she has always enjoyed spending time outside. For a short time, she worked as part of a landscaping team where she learned the value of teamwork. Laura was introduced to a horticultural therapy program and found out firsthand just how much she benefited from it. She learned that, “gardening teaches you just what it means to be patient; you can’t expect instant gratification.”
Last year, a seed was sowed when Discovery House staff, along with shelter clients, came together in a focus group to talk about creating a community garden, and this June the community came together in a delightfully organic way. Donations of funds, time, flowers, and soil from RBC, Foothills Landscaping, The Centre for Newcomers, and The Garden Centre ensured that Discovery House had everything we needed to get the project off the ground, and on a wonderfully warm evening volunteers from RBC came to Discovery House ready to work. Under the tutelage of our experienced and accomplished nursing clinician and gardener, Steve, everyone was sent off to different areas to prep and plant. There was such excitement in the courtyard with everyone dining on hot dogs and pop, working the soil, and socializing. The volunteers were so patient and accommodating as they assisted the children who were eager to plant and water the plants and it reminded us all that kids love being outside and playing with dirt. The final product is a beautiful flower and vegetable garden, safely tucked away in our enclosed courtyard. Additionally, we have significantly enhanced our curb appeal by adding both perennials and annuals to what was a rather ‘tired’ planter box in front of our building.
“What we really enjoyed about building the planter box in the courtyard, was that we had only just moved all of the supplies outside to build it before we found ourselves surrounded by the kids, who came to see what we were doing, and more importantly, to see if they could help,” said Steve and John, two employees who built the planter box. This exercise confirmed what we all believe to be true about community gardens – they bring communities together.
The benefits of this garden in our courtyard include everything from building community and overcoming social isolation through new friendships, to learning new skills, bonding over a common interest, and sharing knowledge. We want to inspire our clients to learn and empower them to continue moving forward on their own. In fact, we know that Laura continues to use everything she learned, and is now creating beautiful gardens for others professionally.
We see this garden as the kick off point to form other collaborations in our community. We are now looking into a project combining gardening with Yoga at the Inglewood Community Garden, and are as excited to see what other opportunities spring up, as we are to harvest the first fruits of our labour.