Community Gardens and School Learning Gardens Programs
Organization Sponsor: Multicultural Interagency Group of Peel
Organization Partner: Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport (now Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care)
“Food gardening is a great way to link our cultural history with exercise, therapy, healthy eating, community building and environmental awareness.” Community food gardens play an important role in encouraging healthy eating habits and positive social engagement. “Planting, nurturing and harvesting together helps people to literally put down roots in the community.”
The newest community garden was established in the Malton area this spring with the grand opening of the Malton Community Garden, located in Elmcreek Park. Many community groups and neighbourhood residents have worked together to turn this space into a welcoming place to grow food, hold workshops and events, participate in garden art and build community.
The other gardens are growing as well: Both the Hillside Park Community Garden and the Garden of the Valley Community Garden continue to be a popular place for gardeners and for community involvement. There are almost 70 plots under cultivation, providing fresh, healthy food to Mississauga residents and local food banks. Volunteers from Mississauga Master Gardeners, UPS, Credit Valley Conservation Youth Corps and the Archbishop Romero Catholic School have been very involved in creating and maintaining the gardens, as well as providing valued assistance in gardening skills and knowledge. Due to the growing demand for garden spaces, EcoSource and MIAG are currently in the site construction phase of the fourth community garden on municipal land at Parkway Green Park, serving the Central Parkway community.
Gardens Program staff are also supporting three independent groups in establishing or continuing their community gardens this year. These groups include the Sahara Seniors Garden, the Village Keepers Child & Family Centre, and the Palgrave Environmental Committee. All three groups are enthusiastic about creating spaces for connecting community members, growing fresh food and building networks.
EcoSource and MIAG, funded generously through the Ontario Trillium Foundation
MIAG is a non-profit charitable community organization that strives to address community needs and identify gaps in service delivery, and to ensure the active participation of diverse communities including women, youth, seniors, and persons with disabilities in the society. MIAG has embraced community development and capacity building approaches to enhance community mobilization. It actively integrates creative responses to existing and emerging ethno-cultural communities' needs by applying effective outreach, leadership training and skills development programs.
“Many of our seniors are expert gardeners with an agricultural background. The satisfaction and community feeling of gardening together brings to mind many special memories.” “Working with the Sahara Seniors on the garden project has been an inspiring and educational experience for everyone involved. It has been so exciting to see the Sahara Seniors leading the way to create a positive community space their neighbourhood."
Feedback from participants.
Through this program we are working to connect communities in the Region of Peel with neighbourhood garden spaces, garden networks, and educational opportunities that increase access to healthy organic food in our community.
Promoting the course needs to happen by word of mouth and through family members. Having grassroots support of local community leaders and workers is essential.
This program began in January 2007.