Almost everyone dreams of something. We all have ambitions when we are little, which change as we grow up. Ambitions differ from one person to another but together we can make dreams come true.
All Saints Church’s ambition and dream was to give back to the community. We wanted to reach out and help our neighbors. What better way to help and bring our community together than building a community garden.
In the summer of 2022, we were approached by a resident of Dain City, Jennifer Thompson. Jennifer was searching for a property to start a community garden. Jennifer contacted Wendy Scott, the rector’s warden and presented her plan to assist us in building the garden. Wendy was very excited and wanted to share her excitement with the congregation. A meeting was scheduled to discuss and present the plans. Many attended this meeting including members of the church and many other interested members of the community.
Jennifer is a member of Niagara Community Garden Network and Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. Jennifer has many years of experience and has been involved in several community gardens. She along with the garden members have the knowledge, resources, and contacts to make our dream come true.
Wendy and Kim Eros (Treasurer) applied for a WOW (Walking on Water) grant, through the Diocese of Niagara. We were granted just over $4,000 for the first phase of the garden plan of our proposal. In 2023 our garden team attended two workshops with Emily Hill, diocesan parish development missioner, to help us “connect with our community and how God is connected to the earth.” The workshops were helpful, insightful, and interesting. Once the workshops were completed the grant funds for the other phase would follow. Jennifer also applied for the TD Friends of the Environment Grant of $2,500. We purchased the fruit trees and soil with the funds.
The garden team led the design of the garden. The area at the church entrance was designed for wheelchair accessibility. We reached out to the community for garden tools, donations for soil, and mulch.
Along with the first eight raised beds of phase one, advertising on social media was suggested. Cost of plots were discussed to help keep the gardens self-sustained and guidelines to respect the gardens. A bulletin board was installed to keep the community informed, rain barrels installed to collect water, along with benches and picnic tables built for community members to enjoy the gardens. A place where people can sit, relax, share garden tips or ideas and fellowship.
We held several workdays, and many members of our community joined our team to help with the work needed for phase one. The first eight garden beds were built, filled with soil and plants. We were fortunate to receive donations from sponsors for several plots. The harvest from the donated plots was to benefit the community to pick at will and enjoy the vegetables. Our plots flourished.
A vegetable stand was placed in front of the church with all the vegetables, herbs, and flowers to enjoy. The community has welcomed the offer of fresh food. Our shelves are always empty. The need is there, and All Saints is pleased to know that we can be a part of giving to those who are in need.
In August, we had a youth build day and BBQ welcoming children from the community to help build two children’s picnic tables. Next year we will be offering garden space to a youth group to cultivate and harvest on their own.
The adults built their picnic table and sitting bench and erected the frame for the community board. The gardens were cleaned up and vegetables picked again for the sharing shelves.
We named the garden “Dain City Community Garden” sponsored by All Saints Church. The community garden is being visited daily by our neighbors. All Saints is beginning to be a hub for people to walk through the garden and as mentioned enjoy fellowship.
Our rector met two individuals in the garden and found out that they had lived in Sri Lanka, his homeland. The following Sunday they attended Sunday worship.
We have met many of our community members whom if it had not been for the garden we may never have met. People are responding and showing interest.
From this garden not only have we reached out to the community, but we are filling a void of needed food. As the costs of food continue to rise so will the need. We held two tomato canning classes.
Next year we hope to do more canning of our harvested vegetables. The possibilities are endless.