A new community garden at The Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope in Kingston, Ont., is providing a way for the community to grow much-needed fruits and vegetables that can be distributed to low-income individuals and families.
“We used to have a lawn in front of our building, now it’s a thriving community garden,” says Jack Parker, Program Supervisor. “The garden will also serve as a learning opportunity for our after-school program. Children are learning about the health benefits of eating more vegetables and the importance of keeping a garden.”
The Gathering Place is a day drop-in centre for those experiencing homelessness or at risk of losing their housing. People come for a meal, housing help and other supports. The harvest from the community garden, which includes potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, herbs and cucumber, will be distributed to the meal program and garden volunteers.
“We want to encourage people in our community to support those who are vulnerable,” says Parker. “Everyone is welcome to help maintain the garden and it’s a great support to people who don’t have access to healthy food.”
The garden was made possible through close collaboration with other community agencies―Town Homes Kingston, Loving Spoonful and The John Howard Society. Although in its early stages, the garden is raising awareness and teaching people to think about sustainability and long-term solutions to food insecurity.
“The garden is showing people that it’s possible to grow food in a small space, and future programs will help teach more people in the community about healthy and gardening,” says Parker.