Everyone has probably driven past them at some point. The small, single plot community gardens in Winnipeg’s North End, with rustic paint chipped picket fences, raised garden beds, marked with hand-painted signs. Most people however, do not think much more of these gardens once they leave their sight, and I was of the same mindset until this summer.
Beginning July 2018, I had the pleasure of starting a two-month community garden internship at Food Matters Manitoba, spending time maintaining the William Whyte community gardens as well as researching ways to improve their impact. Over this period, there was a first-hand chance to work with many friendly people in these unsuspecting gardens. I experienced the tremendous kinship shared between the gardeners – many are newcomers to Winnipeg, as well as people who have lived in the community for the past 30+ years.
Not only did these once vacant pieces of land facilitate this development of community, but they also allowed for many people to grow plants not found in grocery stores. In my time at the gardens, I was taught about many different plants I had not seen before, and about different ways to use parts of the plants I was not accustomed to (like how does stir-fried squash flower taste?).
There was a similar friendly community found in the office. I was welcomed by one of the most amiable and out-going groups of people I had ever seen, and they gave me a chance to help increase the food knowledge and security in Winnipeg and around Manitoba. I thoroughly enjoyed this time at Food Matters Manitoba and hope to continue to help this enthusiastic community in the pursuit of good food for all.
Written by Luke Thiessen, Community Garden Intern