Growing Food, Cultivating Community
Spring is in the air. The sun is shining and the scent of new earth and awakened lakes sweeps through the wind, bringing a promise of renewal and growth. In this spirit of planting new seeds, I met with Glenda Forward, the membership coordinator of the St. Anne Road Community Garden in Sudbury, Ontario. I was moved by Glenda’s passion for gardening and her commitment to bringing healthy, organic food to the community. In our conversation, we touched upon many areas including health and well-being, relationships and the power of community collaboration. We also made connections to the ways that a community garden effectively responds to broader social and political issues such as food security, the benefits of supporting local growers and creating equanimity by allowing healthy food to be accessible to all. By the end of our conversation, it was clear that the community garden is much more than just growing food; it is about cultivating a vision of healthy community. Forward describes the garden as a space for anyone who is interested in growing organic food. Membership is open to those interested in gardening; from the absolute beginner to the exceptional green thumb. The mandate of the garden calls for sharing of experiences among members, enriching a vision where each member learns from all levels present in the collective. In this sense, the garden functions as a co-operative: members collaborate, share and support one another, and all work together to maintain the functioning of the garden as a whole. Operationally, the garden is member driven, non-hierarchical and egalitarian. “In decision making, members are encouraged to listen to one another,” said Forward, “we recognize that it is important to hear all perspectives and understand that we can learn and grow through our relationships. We recognize that each person has something to share.” Read more..