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  • 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.

I Know Why the Community Gardener Hums

There are no words to describe how the body syncs up with Mother Nature. Perhaps some day I’ll have someone illustrate what I see in my head. I’d have them draw a person walking around with dark circles under their eyes and tense face muscles. There would be little lightning bolts around the shoulders and head, signifying overexposure to EMFs (electromagnetic pollution). In terms of posture, the muscles at the front of the spine would be flexed, and the ribcage drawn inward. The shoulder girdles would be drawn forward, and the back would look weak.

When the human body quietly picks weeds or plants seeds, an internal humming starts to happen. It’s hard to detect unless we’re looking for it. Maybe that’s why so many gardeners hum while they garden. They're synchronizing with the natural world. The body vibrates and hums right along with the natural world on an electromagnetic level. And what better way to describe the nervous system than by calling it our ‘electrical wiring’?

Community Gardens Strengthen Communities

The mission of Brantford’s Equal Ground Community Gardens is to promote healthy, sustainable, food-secure communities through the support and creation of community gardens. By providing gathering places in natural settings, the initiative works to empower Brantford citizens through strengthening community, offering education, and promoting sustainability through access to food.

This initiative seeks to:

  • Provide opportunities for social engagement, inclusion, sense of belonging, and places to build relationships.

  • Provide hands-on learning opportunities for community members to gain food and garden-related life skills

  • Encourage community members to teach what they know.

  • Provide access to sustainable, healthy, local food throughout Brantford.

Do you live, work or play in the Brantford area? Learn more about Brantford’s Equal Ground Community Garden Programs HERE.

Not in the Brantford area? Community gardens are springing up all across Canada! Try googling your city or region name and ‘community gardens’. You may be surprised by just how many communities are connecting with nature, and getting their hands dirty to promote food security for all. Will you join them?

Are you a Naturopathic Doctor interested in issues of food security and nature connection? Follow Naturopathic Doctors for Social and Environmental Trust (NEST) on Instagram and Facebook @nestnds or check out our website to learn more!

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