• Dr. Angela Hanlon, ND

Community Gardens: Synchronizing with the Natural World

When I decided to move to Brantford from a rural Ontario community, the first thing I did was contact the local community gardens. I wanted to make some friends. And I wanted those friends to be good, solid, intelligent people. That happened - and I met my husband! It’s funny - when I was in naturopathic college I read an article about using local community gardens to meet like-minded singles. It made perfect sense to me at the time, and I remember thinking “oh man, wouldn’t that be cool”. I can now confirm that, yes, it is very cool.

Thinking of getting involved with your local community garden, but not sure if it's right for you? Read on as I share my own community garden journey.

Community Gardens as Support Systems

Relationships and friendships aside, these Brantford gardens are an important support system for folks who are interested in healthy local food. Anyone can harvest from the gardens, with the exception of 2020 due to social distancing restrictions. In Fall 2020, the gardens collectively donated 4,000 pounds of food to the Brantford and Brant County food banks - and there’s more to come. In addition to the established gardens, in 2020, 68 people donated space on their property for a garden, and learned a lot about food sovereignty in the process.

Community Gardens as Self Discovery

My favourite part of being involved with these gardens is the education. A lovely little 8 year old with high needs and an overwhelmed parent found themselves in my office one day. I sent them to their local community garden so they could discover the neutralizing effect of getting their hands in dirt. I suggested to the parent that she and her child visit the gardens when there wouldn’t be many people around. This way, her child could focus on the discovery process. It’s not just a discovery of the natural world - it’s a discovery of the Self. It helps us grow and develop, emotionally and physically.