Have we lost the value of community? Technology has brought the world into our homes but, what about the connection with communities outside our doors?

Let us take a trip and explore a new community garden space which molds the relationship between sustainability, health, and equity. In a partnership between UHN and Greenest City; the 17 Close Ave Community Garden Team managed to successfully nurture a vacant lot into a garden space for various fruits and vegetables! The Greenest City was also involved with Bickle Centres GROW (Garden Rehab on Wheels) garden. Where every season staff, patients and people within the community can congregate (while adhering to social distancing guidelines of course) and re-create their own wonderland through the power of gardening!

Not only can the garden help re-connect the community with the environment, it can also help promote the need for diversity within gardening. Have you ever experienced the need for grooming your lawn to perfection? Maybe as you look out your window you begin to compare your lawn to that of your neighbours? As you walk through your own neighbourhood, you may past by that one house with the perfectly trimmed lawn 24/7. Lawns can look pretty good from a carbon perspective as plants help photosynthesize carbon. Although, let’s begin to think about the amount of energy wasted by lawn equipment combined with the annual use of water to maintain such an appeal. The added care that many put into their lawns just for the aesthetic appeal can be damaging to the environment and the results begin to outweigh the carbon sink perspective!

The 17 Close Ave garden effectively captures the vision of health and equity that is shared throughout the UHN! Currently 1 in 8 Canadians experience the struggles of food insecurity and from that statistic, a high percentage being Indigenous communities. By creating a safe and accessible garden space; it provides those with no access to greenspace, an opportunity to re-engage in a meaningful life activity.

“The group wanted to reflect the history of the land, which includes indigenous presence.  Bonnie Storr is Indigenous, lived in the house that used to be on 17 Close Ave and was an avid gardener” – Angela ElzingaCheng, Executive Director at Greenest City

For me, the garden can be viewed as a sanctuary. A place to unearth difficult things in our current lives while achieving a longing peace. Although it is important to keep in mind how the garden gives back to you. I’ll be honest, I am no Green Thumb – but to re-establish a nurturing connection with the environment can be one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life.

For the 17 Close Ave Garden, it is a place to sustainably garden while keeping the roots of health and equity in mind. Those that live in high-rises are now able to taste the fruits of labour by using the garden! So the next time you are trimming those pesky weeds; reflect on your relationship with the little patches of Earth we tend too and visit the community garden!

(Source: https://youtu.be/ngxdqbFmZ_I)

I wanted to end by giving a special thank you to the Green Team volunteers that are fostering the white sage plants through the winter season from our Michener Institute of Education Indigenous Healing Garden.Your effort is truly appreciated and we are looking forward to seeing you next year!