Learning to garden through building community

Submitted by Derek Alton on April 14, 2013 - 3:21pm
a conversation about building community and learning gardening in Guelph

I am surrounded by a community of people who are part of the go local movment.  I significant chunk of these people have a passion for urban agriculture and growing their own food.  I have always admired this in them and through their actions, they have inspired me to learn.  With this in mind I received a promotional flyer from my friend Ami at the recent resiliency festival in Guelph.  Ami has started an organization called Minga skill builders which is striving to help build resilient communities through skill sharing.  the concept is she helps find neighbours who have a skill they can share (canning, greenhouse making, backyard chicken farming, ect.) and helps connect them with a bunch of others in the area with a desire to learn that skill.

On this flyer was a list of upcoming workshops, one of which was called: "Home Grown Edible Gardens Series Prt. 1: Plan and Design your Garden for a Bountiful Harvest."  As a person who has a long track record of killing my plants, I thought this would be a great way for me to meet some cool people and get myself on the right gardening track.

When I arrived, I was shocked both by the di versity of people (ranging in ages from early twenties to early sixties) and the fact that these were all people from my neighbourhood who I did not know.  This workshop turned out to be completely different then any workshop I had done before.  It took place in a local corner restuarant that had a very quant feel to it.  Though we did have a facilitator with expertise in gardeneing much of the time was spent in smaller groups or in a large group discussion, everyone had expertise to bring and this was honoured.  I was very pleased also to learn that there was a lunch included in the workshop.  We gathered around one table and ate local food together.  

I left the workshop with a greater confidence in my gardening ability and a plan for where to grow what this summer.  More then that though I walked away with a bunch of new friends.  We have promised to keep each other informed with our garden progress this summer.

Like every workshop that Minga hosts, it is as much about building community as it is about building skills.  I am really excited to attend another one of these workshops and learn more.

Does this kind of thing exist in other cities?