Sunday, August 29, 2010

Grow Regina Community Garden

We all need to eat; and our food choices are many. Walk into any supermarket today and you are confronted with an abundance of food from all over the world. Not so long ago, in my youth and probably yours, most of the food we ate was grown right here. Times were tough but we ate well. Back then you built a house and you planted a garden because you intended to stay there for a while. Children grew up with backyard gardens and had the pleasure eating food fresh from plants in the garden.

Prosperity, convenience and propaganda slowly disconnected most of us from our food source: the garden soil, the sun and water that fed us. In a recent survey of children in large cities like New York, when asked where their food came from, they responded that their food came from the supermarket in plastic containers.

Ecological thinking and concern for where the planet is heading; and the clamor for good locally grown food, safe food, accelerated the growth of urban community gardens and farmers' markets. Well known is the Strathcona Community Heights community garden in Ottawa, Urban Eden in Edmonton and Cypress Community Garden in Kitsilano where I visited recently, a lovely spot in the middle of the city. More and more people are joining together to start community gardens.

Grow Regina is volunteer group of people gardening collectively with a mandate to enhance the social, economic and cultural well-being of Regina residents. The energy and inventiveness of this group makes it stand out as an inspiration, demonstrating what is possible when a committed group of gardeners come together to create a garden to grow food for themselves and others. It is a model for schoolyards, for backyards and even front yards and other modest green spaces in the city. The school children that are already involved in this community garden are learning how vegetables actually grow and are already committed citizens donating their harvest to the Regina Food Bank, providing families with children like themselves with good food for healthy bodies and healthy minds.

The next exciting building phase for Grow Regina is the gazebo that we are proposing to build that will be a centrepiece in this garden. It will provide a place for the gardeners to meet, relax, and talk about the unusual vegetables they are growing like purple broccoli, blue corn, Black Prince Tomatoes, orange cauliflower and yellow fingerling potatoes. Imagine culinary demonstrations in the gazebo, where food, grown in the garden, is prepared as an edible work of art, shared and eaten under its canopy roof. The gazebo may also provide a cultural venue for poetry readings, musical performances inspired by the garden and for collaborations with groups like New Dance Horizons who host the Secret Garden Tour. Weddings anyone?

A project like Grow Regina Community Garden does much good. I am pleased to offer my imagination to enhance this community effort to foster the passion for gardening and love of nature and art to deepen the sense of community and to give this place a soul.