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EDITORIAL: Getting ourselves back to the garden


Self-reliance appeals to most people – often all that’s required is some confidence and know-how.

Add to that, a lot more people are gaining interest these days about where their food comes from. That can be both education and inspiration all rolled into one, something people involved with the area’s youth shelter are investing in.

The Enactus group from the Nova Scotia Community College is building on a project started last year that established a garden box at the Roots for Youth house in New Glasgow. The aim was a means to grow fresh produce for young people who find themselves using the shelter.

The idea came from Stacey Dlamini, program director at Pictou County Roots for Youth, who noted that some of those who sought refuge at the shelter weren’t at all accustomed to having vegetables as part of their meals. The garden project, a partnership between Roots for Youth and the college student group, got things off the ground so to speak – a real hands-on, community endeavour with the students taking charge, a source of nutritious food for youth staying at the home, plus one way to stretch the budget at the house.

This year the Enactus group is expanding on previous work, building a greenhouse to extend the vegetable growing potential. Members will continue maintaining the garden during the growing season.

The value of the project has received official recognition, having won a Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Award regionally, sending group members off to a national competition in Vancouver on the weekend to communicate their experiences.

We’ll wish them well on that; a little like seed carried on the wind, it’s an idea that deserves to travel and take root elsewhere.

This is an idea that’s a perfect fit for these circumstances at the youth shelter – but the concept and its potential represent a whole lot more.

While youth finding shelter at the home for several days might well be discovering the wholesome qualities of fresh, locally grown vegetables, there’s the garden itself. It’s a touchstone, it encapsulates what goes into sustaining life at the most basic level.

In short, it’s a perfect illustration for young people – or anyone for that matter – about nature’s solution to prevent going to bed on an empty stomach. It’s also, as Dlamini expresses it, a metaphor for what we hope to see in youth – developing from a seed, growing, blooming, maturing.

Community gardens in our towns and villages – a fairly recent idea – have been catching on and are a welcome addition. They’re a wholesome activity, a gathering of friends and neighbours, an education and source of food in a package we can all appreciate.

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