Building community bonds through therapeutic garden in Halifax


On June 19, 2013 over 70 volunteers from Fiskars, Canadian Tire, Partners for Care and the local Halifax community completed a one day garden makeover to expand the Common Roots Urban Farm located near the Halifax QEII Infirmary emergency entrance.


The garden kicked off with a ceremonial first dig by Fiskars President Paul Tonnesen, Canadian Tire VP of Merchandising David Mock and Partners for Care Project Coordinator Jayme Melrose broadcast live locally on Global TV Halifax Morning News. Minutes later, hammers, wheelbarrows and shovels were busily moving throughout the garden as volunteers constructed raised beds, assembled benches and moved soil to fill new garden beds.


Volunteer gardening experience ranged from beginners to experienced green thumbs who volunteer at the existing Common Roots Urban farm regularly. But by the end of the day, all had worked together to build 13 raised beds, four canopy beds and two pedestal beds, assemble two benches, stain a garden shed, move over 50 cubic yards soil and plant over 275 plants.


The main goal of the new garden was to provide a therapeutic space for patients, visitors and staff of the nearby hospital to participate in gardening activities in the wheelchair accessible beds, or simply enjoy the outdoor space. Interest in the garden was immediately noticeable as faces peeked through the windows of the nearby hospital throughout the day to watch the events in the garden. As soon as benches were assembled and positioned in the garden, they were quickly occupied by hospital visitors eager to spend some time outside and observe the bustling garden activity.


Just eight hours after the rainy 8:00 a.m. first dig, the completed garden was celebrated under sunny skies with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by Premier Darrel Dexter, local City Councillor Jennifer Watts and Dr. Gaynor Watson Creed from Capital Health. The local dignitaries praised the hard work of the volunteers and emphasized the value Common Roots Urban farm brings to the community through positive social interactions, food security and the connection and appreciation for growing healthy food.


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