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Following up: Salvation Army brings back Field of Greens program

Residents of the Journey to Life Centre will tend a variety of different vegetable and herb gardens over the course of the summer, learning valuable life lessons while growing their own food.

THUNDER BAY – The Salvation Army’s Field of Greens program is back.

The community garden, a staple at the Cumberland Street facility since 2009, was put on hold when the Journey to Life Centre was built, then further paused when COVID-19 came along.

On Monday, residents and volunteers from the Port Arthur Rotary Club spent the morning tilling the soil in the raised garden beds and planting a variety of crops, from chives to zucchinis, part of the centre’s holistic approach to help its residents get back on their feet.

George Seagris, a resident who says he’s been landscaping most of his life, said it’s the perfect project for he and his fellow Journey to Life participants, a great motivational experience that also teaches valuable life skills.

“I enjoy it because you’re working together with everyone. You’re helping out for the Journey to Life and I enjoy landscaping anyway. I’ve landscaped my whole life. It gets everyone working together as a group and working as a team,” Seagris said.

The added bonus is they’ll have a chance to reap what they sow, the chef at the Journey to Life Centre eager to harvest the crops and use them when cooking meals for residents and staff.

“We’re growing it ourselves, so it’ll taste good,” Seagris said.

Gary Ferguson, the executive director at the Journey to Life Centre, said it’s proven to be a much beloved program over the years, and the new location, on the south side of the facility, is a great addition to the programming already in place.

“It’s part of beautifying our site, but a lot of gentlemen that we work with really enjoy gardening. They’ve done gardening in the past. The garden itself will help to offset some of the cost of our food. It’s life skills, it’s partnerships, it’s communication, it’s camaraderie, it’s working with others,” Ferguson said.

“It’s really an exciting project and we’re very excited to be working with Port Arthur Rotary.”

Rotary’s David Legge said his organization has helped raise much of the money needed for the beds, the soil and the plants and seeds themselves.

He said he sees plenty of benefits to continuing the Field of Greens project in Thunder Bay.

 “The biggest dividend, really, is the pride and interest and evolution of hope that these residents get out of it. They’re a fairly diverse group of residents. Some are already expressing desire to take the lead and maybe talk their buddies into coming out as well, in the fresh air,” Legge said.

“And there’s food to be had too. It’s a supplement to their regular food requirement.”

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