Submitted by Danielle Labonte, MPH, MAN, RD
Registered Dietitian and Public Health Nutritionist
Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
Finally, winter is over and people can get to their gardens. Growing your own garden is a great way to have access to a variety of fresh and delicious vegetables and fruit, and research has shown that gardeners eat more vegetables and fruit than non-gardeners.
What if you are just starting out? Some people are happy to learn from internet resources but many people learn best by doing. One solution is to participate in community gardening. Community gardens come in many different shapes and sizes. They can be large or small, on the ground or on rooftops, in plots, or in planters. They can also be a mix of all of these things. Some are communal, where everyone shares the work and the harvest. Some have separate, individual plots for each gardener, and some are a combination.
In addition to providing food, belonging to a community garden can provide you and your family, students, co-workers, or neighbours the opportunity to learn about growing your own food and then, you get to eat it! Community gardens provide benefits such as social connectedness and an opportunity to learn something new. In addition to the fresh food, they contribute to our health through physical activity in the fresh air, provide a chance to meet new people, have some quality time with others, and to get connected to your community.
If you’re interested in starting your own garden, or expanding your usual plants, check out the Food Inventory at foodcoreLGL.ca for places where you can buy plants and seeds or participate in seed exchanges and find the locations for local community gardens.