Perhaps I should not be top choice to be selected by a community centre near my workplace to be a ‘garden representative’ at their community garden, since I know only enough to make the ‘hair’ on a Chia Pet grow (by the way, the key is to keep the scalp of whatever clay figurine you chose as your favourite, i.e. the rabbit, the dog, or the hedgehog, moist at all times). Nevertheless, being the enthusiast that I am, I decided to embark on involving myself in a community garden. I envisioned arriving to the first potluck garden meeting of the year on a sunny March afternoon, sitting amidst the blossoms (not of the onion persuasion, by the way), and sipping a cold glass of iced tea, listening to other gardeners muse about the trials and tribulations of their tomato varieties. Instead, I arrived with my store-bought hummus in toe with a companion, who opted for store-bought yogurt dip and baby carrots as her contribution. Others shared loaves of bread, fruit kabobs made with exotic fruit, and potatoes with olive oil, whose tinge was too green for my liking (solanine may have been the culprit) that I opted out of trying them. Let us say, based on this smorgasbord, we were in desperate need of a garden that grows items of an edible nature.
There are many great benefits to having a garden, one of which I have illustrated with the anecdote above, which is specifically to improve upon the current food supply, which as most of us know does not stem from local sources. In Canada, we grow a significant proportion of berries, pulses, grain and cattle, but we often export our resources, opting for produce from California instead. More on this later. Other significant benefits of gardens are the reunion of children and youth with their food supply, which contrary to their beliefs comes from the ground, not from a plastic bag or ‘Costco’. The generation gap can also be mitigated as experienced gardeners can teach the youth about their strategies, passing down ideas from one generation to the next. Gardening reduces the barriers for many to access healthful foods such as fruits and vegetables, and allows those who are unemployed or new to Canada to find a sense of community and purpose. Watch the film “Grow Your Own” , which is a great depiction of what a garden can do for humanity.