Community Gardens

In Family-friendly, Home Life, Local Outings
Last weekend we ventured out to the Grand River Community Health Centre where a number of volunteers had planned a series of plant-related experiences for the 2nd Annual Equal Ground Community Gardens Open House. It was a free event with kids activities, so we reckoned we’d give it a shot. And it turned out to be a perfectly lovely morning with a little of something for everyone.

As we arrived we helped ourselves to coffee and tea and wandered around looking at the heirloom tomato plants and packets of seeds, on sale for $1 each. At a seed exchange station friendly volunteers shared information about the various community garden plots around Brantford and the surrounding Brant county. Anyone who wants to start a community garden is able to with the support of Equal Ground, who provide seeds and other resources.

Moo had the opportunity to get her face painted for the first time by a high school student, who appropriately selected a pink flower for her cheek. Moo couldn’t have been more pleased. “Is it still there?” she kept asking.

We wandered to the next kids station and embarked upon an epic colouring quest, making our marks on all the different available colouring sheets. A volunteer was there with her young granddaughter who showed Moo how to plant a few bean seeds inside an icecream waffle cone which could be transplanted straight into the ground once sprouted.

We’re not expecting much garden-wise this spring (since we’re expecting to have a newborn), but it’s hard to resist growing things when you only have the chance once a year. At home we’ve started a few things – cucumbers, sunflowers, poppies and – despite all advice to the contrary due to their difficulty to grow – strawberries. Moo had picked out the seeds herself and we’ve been checking on them daily, diligently ensuring they have the water and sunshine they need, enjoying observing the first and second leaves emerging from the soil.

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Gardens have a central place in our family; early on in our relationship Mark and Cass shared a community allotment in Egham, England, where we met, and were often teased for it by our officemates (we were the youngest gardeners there by 40 years). A few years ago Cassie even renamed her personal blog to be “Plot 47a”, the plot number for our first shared garden.

Planting green beans at our community allotment in 2008

Lately, we like to watch a little TVO some evenings for the British gardening shows, a step up in our opinion from Peppa Pig. There is nothing like a good British gardening show (we love Monty Don and Carol Klein) and we take full advantage of Moo’s tolerance for it. Events like this Equal Ground Open House, or those at Walter’s, are welcome day trips to reinforce our parent-approved subject matters.

While we missed the other interesting workshops on beekeeping and urban agriculture, we had the pleasure of sitting through Gloria Ord’s session on square foot (small space) gardening. She taught us how to grow 25lbs of potatoes with a bit of newspaper, soil and an old reusable grocery bag – something we can commit to trying on our front porch.

Beyond this plant-themed event, we discovered more about the Grand River Community Health Centre. The building and its employees and volunteers provide resources “to achieve equity, belonging, health and wellbeing for all” – a vision we can get behind. Stitch ‘n’ Chat, yoga classes, and LGBTQ socials are all regular events on the agenda, and all for free. Seems like something folks should know about and it’s one venue we’ll be paying closer attention to in the future.

“Everyone Matters” a collaboration between Brantford Arts Block and Grand River Community Health Centre

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