Community Garden Springing Up

Re-posted from Keith Dempsey, Hanover Post.

Two community garden coordinators from the area, Lydia Dyck and Simona
Freiberg, have been designing and implementing the beginnings of a
community garden on site at Riverstone Retreat Centre, located just west
of Durham.

"When you're starting something from scratch, when you see an empty
field and you turn it into something, you can see the progress, it's
very fulfilling, motivating and inspiring," Freiberg, who lives in
Meaford, though is a dual citizen of the Czech Republic, said. Simona
studied to be a legal assistant at Humber college, Gender Studies at
Athabasca University, and also took a Permaculture Design Course (PDC)
in British Columbia. She is now the coordinator of the Meaford community
gardens, and she is assisting the development of many other community
gardens in the area. She is also developing the Community Gardens
Network through Grey Bruce Sustainability Network, which will seek to
coordinate best practices between gardens and share experience and
enthusiasm for growing food.

Dyck and Freiberg have a team of roughly seven people who are assisting
them with this community gardens project. And they're putting a call out
to community members interested in participating in the growing season.
Those interested should contact

"We're happy to have people come on board with us," Dyck, who lives in
Durham but recently graduated from college in Indiana, with degrees in
biology and sustainability studies, said.

"We're happy for people to come for just one day, but we'd love if
somebody would like to get their hands dirty and commit to coming
regularly and getting to know the garden." Freiberg said all levels of
experience with gardening are welcomed.

"We always need people and everybody brings to the table something
they're good at," Freiberg said. The property was purchased a few years
ago by the youth educational charity Elephant Thoughts and is on its way
to becoming a hub of activity, education, festival and meeting space for
this community.

Several main goals of this garden are to educate groups of youth that
come through, including those in the day camps this summer partnered
with the Municipality of West Grey, as well as to provide workshops for
community members as the pandemic allows.

"This is one of the examples of how partnerships can happen with the
community here," Dyck said. "Down the road we can imagine many types of
workshops happening at the garden including permaculture, seed saving,
cooking and food preservation, in addition to painting workshops,
drumming circles and whatever else the community will bring forward. The
potential is there and is growing with the garden."

This community garden is the start of a bunch of opportunities for the
community to get involved, Dyck said. "This is just the beginning," she
said. "(Elephant Thoughts) want this to be seen as a space that can be
approached and used to build a community around here. It's really
exciting to be part of that beginning." Keyhole garden bed with
accessible gathering space behind, with construction of outdoor kitchen

The gardens include accessible beds for both people of limited mobility
as well as wheelchair users. So far, the gardens include ground
vegetable beds, bee and butterfly gardens, a greenhouse and a food

Putting time and effort into this garden has been a nice escape from the
pandemic for Freiberg and Dyck. "Working with plants in general is a
retreat," Dyck said. "It's a place you can find renewal as you're
growing with these plants. I've been learning lots already and working
together has been amazing."

"We are growing with the plants," Freiberg added.

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