THUNDER BAY -- Community gardens are a growing enterprise in this city.
With 16 in place, the number has doubled in just two years, some 14 years after the first one was planted within city limits.
Catherine Schwartz-Mendez, a public health nutritionist and chairwoman of the Food Action Network and Community Garden Collective, said more and more people are starting to see the benefit of growing their own food, both from a sustainable standpoint and the sheer enjoyment and sense of accomplishment.
“Different groups are really seeing gardening as a way to enhance their programs and different groups and different individuals are wanting to garden in more of a community setting,” Mendez-Schwartz said.
“They may not know how to garden anymore and it’s a great way to build community in a neighbourhood.”
Started with a few small gardens, the city jumped on board a few years ago, providing soil and water to help sustain most of the efforts.
“That’s really helped and now we have tons of different groups and different people involved in the gardens and it’s a really important way for people to learn where their food comes from. People really want more food security, so they’re getting more into growing and schools are incorporating it into their programs so that kids can learn about food and where it comes from.”
On Wednesday Schwartz-Mendez led a group on a tour of seven community gardens around the city, including the Roots to Harvest plots in the Bay and Algoma area and a smaller garden planted outside McKellar Park School.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to crop selection.
The latter garden was stocked with zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and cabbage, and had a nice pumpkin patch growing before vandals struck earlier in the week.
The idea is about to spread its wings beyond Thunder Bay and into the outlying community.
Shuniah’s Wendy Landry took the tour and said she hopes to start one in Shuniah next year.
Not only does it bring the community together, it’s a great fit with the youth centre, in particular its nutrition night.
“We want to co-ordinate the learning part of the program into the gardening and where the vegetable and where all the food comes from,” Landry said.
“We just think it’s a good way to bring the community together and incorporate the learning and the knowledge that’s in our community from the young to the old and we think it’s a great thing to do.”
For more information about community gardens, visit http://www.nwofood.ca/
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