Community Gardens are Important to Barrie for so many reasons.
Barrie's Beautiful Parks
Nearly always, there are beautiful parks built in subdivisions of young families. Still, nearly always, those young families grow up, and the subdivision becomes mature. Several years pass, and it takes extra work to keep enticing people to use the park. Then there are the times that some parks become fallow and overgrown with time.
Installing Community Gardens
A group of forward-thinkers has found a way to move past that in Barrie. On occasion, if the neighbourhood doesn’t use a park, enough crime rates may go up with the park used by unwanted community members. The group Urban Pantry is a community food program of the Canadian Mental Health Association. The group teaches Community Cooking Classes, provides fresh fruit and vegetables through the Barrie Good Food Box and installs Community Gardens.
Changing the Face of a Park
Today it’s what the gardens have done for these parks that are so incredible. Let’s take a look at Shear Park. These gardens were built in partnership with the City of Barrie as part of the official Community Garden Program. There are 18 plots, including raised beds for accessibility, available to residents of the City of Barrie to rent annually.
This park has had tennis courts and a softball field for as long as people can remember, and an outdoor ice surface in the winter months. It also had very little use for a long time. Derelict neighbours moved in, making it unsafe for anyone who wanted to kick back for a while and get in touch with nature.
There are so Many Benefits
Since the implementation of the gardens in 2018, many changes have occurred. The gardens give our youth a safe place to interact with others and involve them in beneficial activities. Crime has been deterred with increased neighbourhood surveillance or”eyes on the street,” However, most of all, community gardens provide various mental health benefits. Being in natural places helps recovery from mental fatigue, improving outlook and life satisfaction. It helps us cope with and recover from stress, improves our ability to recover from illness and injury, restores concentration, and improves productivity.
Even more than that, though – the gardens have become a great place to host community events, both social and cultural.
Enjoying a Community Garden Park
We’ve enjoyed attending some of those events, the last one being Harvest Share last Fall. Just imagine sharing the rewards of your garden plot with friends, family and total strangers. We were invited to share in the harvest of many plots. On a beautiful fall day, we watched as apples were pressed into the most delicious apple juice, enjoying a taste and even taking a small amount home with us.
We were introduced to a fall soup using ingredients found in many of the garden plots, right there at the hot and ready.
Community Gardens are So Important to Barrie
We met with group after group that shared space in this beautiful park. Children were playing and laughing while munching away. Seniors were taking a break from their gardening to chat with visitors, and there seemed to be such a heightened awareness and appreciation for living things and each other.
The beauty of the park, even with the gardens being put to bed, had increased immensely just because it had become such a vital part of the community.
Written By: Jane Laker
Photo Credit: Veronika Kovecses
Let us know what you think of the Community Garden Initiative with Urban Pantry by leaving us a comment.