Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
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The communal gardener

Gardening provides benefits that go well beyond the fresh food that can be produced. Growing and tending a garden has been known to lower blood pressure and reduce stress while improving both the physical and mental health of gardeners. It is also a creative outlet, as it involves planning and designing. It’s become a popular pastime, as recent statistics from the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute show that 48 per cent of adults enjoy being physically active through gardening. For those who’d like to enjoy the benefits but without access to a plot of land, Keith Milne of Wellesley is looking to build a community garden in the village. He hopes it will help with neighbourhood improvement and build a sense of community and connection to the environment.

“A natural location for such a garden would be the downtown core, where as many people as possible would have access to it. A community garden in Wellesley would offer a number of benefits including fresh vegetables and a connection with neighbours,” said Milne.

The key to any neighbourhood garden succeeding is support from the community. Community gardens can come in many different shapes and sizes. They don’t even have to be communal – where everyone shares the work and the harvest – as gardeners can have their own individual plot within the garden and can also join with others to grow some crops communally.

”]Milne is a regional peer health worker who tries to help people in the rural areas of the region get involved in the community by getting them out of their homes and away from isolation by developing projects such as community gardens.
He tried to build the garden last year but was unable to find a piece of land that everyone could use.

“I just want people to know that I am trying to set up a community garden for Wellesley and we are still looking for a place to have it,” said Milne. “As of right now I have not been able to find a sizable area and the trouble I am having is that the people who are interested in operating the garden do not have good transportation, so I need it to be centrally located. I am looking for a garden to be built in the village that people can walk to and access.” Milne hopes the garden will be used by senior citizens, people who rent and do not have their own backyard space, or low-income families that may not have transportation that would like to have a little garden.

Milne is seeking donations, including the land, plowing of the land and seeds for the gardeners to grow their vegetables. The goal is to keep costs low for those who’ll use the garden. “I am open to anything that is good clean land that we could subdivide into plots and share with the community,” he said. “I have tools that I am willing to let people use for the garden to keep as much of the costs down as I can.”

He plans to have a booth at the Wellesley Home Show this May, encouraging people to help with his plan for the community garden.

“I will have information there for people who want to join and that way I will be able to find out how many plots we might need and the see the interest from the community at large,” he said.
He plans to approach the township looking for a piece of land if one isn’t made available.

“The warm weather is coming fast and I just thought this would be a great way to get people out and at the same time we could have our own home grown fresh vegetables at a very low cost.”
Milne plans to bring families together with the communal garden saying it would be fun for families to participate in and watch the garden grow over the summer.

“There is an obvious health aspect to this as well. If you can grow your own vegetables not using any pesticides you know how healthy that food is. Anything that you can pick from the ground and just eat is obviously healthier for you than something coming by truck from miles away.”

Anyone interested in helping with the garden or donating to the cause is asked to contact Keith Milne at (519) 662-2731.

A little more local for your inbox.

Seven days. One newsletter. Local reporting about people and places you
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