Amherstburg youth and seniors came together recently to plant a garden outside the community hub on Richmond Street that will provide fresh vegetables and herbs to those who need it most along with recreational and horticultural educational opportunities.
Members of the Fort Malden Horticultural Society and the House Youth Centre worked the soil side by side, planting into eight wooden planter boxes seeds and sprouts that will become peppers, tomatoes, parsley, sage, rosemary, basil and other herbs. They were joined by representatives from Amherstburg Community Services, which runs its vital Meals on Wheels program from its home in the hub.
The House and ACS will help tend the garden with support and guidance from the Hort Society, drawing water from a massive barrel that will soon be painted by budding artists from the youth centre. The garden will be threshed out in short order with the addition of ten Green Circle garden wheelchair accessible planters that “offer unrivaled wheelchair access” and use “hydroponics to grow bigger, healthier plants.”
The Amherstburg Community Foundation donated $12,000 for the construction of the wooden planter boxes. Bo O’Rourke-Caton, a member of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, led the grant writing process that secured $10,000 in funding for the Green Circle accessible planters.
The community garden project will bring additional life to an already bustling community hub, a campus of compassion that is already home to agencies serving both youth and seniors, like ACS and The House along with Fighting Island Boxing Club, the Verdi Club and a Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic that can service 2,400 patients. There is still room in the hub for other community groups or social service agencies.
The community garden is “envisioned to be a catalyst project for seniors supporting youth and youth supporting seniors, potentially to the benefit of providing meals to those in need and as an educational experience,” said a report to Council. “The synergies created between tenants is unique as it supports youth, seniors and persons with disabilities engaging in all manners of community support and inclusiveness.”
You could see those synergies at work Friday during the community planting event and I’m excited by the potential of our youth and seniors learning from and about each other through shared interests, activities and space at the community hub.
The signature garden planted in front of the hub last year by the Hort Society with funding from the ACF is bursting into life and volunteers with the ACF recently used a $200 grant from the Ontario Horticultural Society to plant a tulip tree.
The tree turns a vibrant yellow colour in the autumn and its seeds will provide food for finches, cardinals and small animals while complementing the Hort Society’s efforts to create a pollinator-friendly environment outside the hub, one that attracts butterflies, native bees and even hummingbirds.