Reimagine Food Story: Cultivating Community Through Gardening
Cultivating Community: The Mount Forest Community Garden
In the heart of Mount Forest, a remarkable initiative has taken root, connecting residents, fostering wellness, and giving back to the community in a truly unique way. The Mount Forest Community Garden, initiated by the Mount Forest Family Health Team, has flourished into a thriving hub of growth, learning, and connection. Let’s dive into the story of this inspiring project and the impact it has had on the local community.
A Garden for All: Mission and Values
The Mount Forest Community Garden’s mission is clear: to provide a space for residents of Wellington North to grow food, learn, and connect through gardening. They emphasize values such as respect, creativity, collaboration, and collective responsibility. One key principle they uphold is the “Honourable Harvest,” a practice rooted in Indigenous traditions that underscores the importance of sustainable and respectful interaction with the Earth.
From Seed Money to Flourishing Community
The journey of the Mount Forest Community Garden began in earnest in May 2023 when they broke ground. Around a year prior, their initial grant request of $10,000 was met with $2,500 in funding. Undaunted, this sum became their ‘seed’ money to gauge community interest. A pivotal community conversation in November 2022, followed by a formalization of project structure in February 2022, paved the way for their progress.
Our Food Future was then able to support this project alongside other sponsorships and local businesses – further fuelling their success. Their financial support extended to the literal soil, where the community came together to build garden boxes and tackle the essential groundwork themselves, relying on the combined skillset and resources of community members.
Growing Together: The Impact on the Community
The Mount Forest Community Garden has witnessed robust volunteerism and engagement, surpassing expectations for its first year. This achievement reflects the community’s desire to reconnect post-COVID and address food insecurity. Their proactive approach to community engagement attracted diverse participants, including organizations like Community Living, the Wellington County Learning Centre, the Canadian Mental Health Association, and more.
This project’s ripple effect reaches far and wide. The garden has provided regular donations of fresh produce to local food banks, further underscoring the project’s contribution to addressing food insecurity. Gardening has also emerged as a form of wellness for participants.
Perhaps one of the most endearing aspects of the garden is its appeal to all generations. Children actively participate in the garden’s activities and even have a small mailbox for leaving notes and drawings—a heartwarming testament to the intergenerational connections formed.
How You Can Get Involved
If you’re inspired by the Mount Forest Community Garden and want to get involved, there are several ways to do so. Consider becoming a garden member, volunteering with a subcommittee, or making donations of gardening tools, plants, seeds, or other useful resources. Get in touch with EMann@mountforestfht.com to learn more.
The organization is eager to expand, accommodating more plots and participants to further benefit the community. They also plan to offer regular programming, educating residents on various aspects of gardening and food preservation.
In the words of one gardener, “any day that I come to the garden is a good day.”
The Mount Forest Community Garden embodies the power of community, nature, and shared purpose, reminding us that cultivating connections can bear the most beautiful and bountiful fruits.
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