Gardening for Food and Mental Health


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Gardening for Food and Mental Health

  1. 1. Gardening for Food and Mental HealthThe CMHA Grey Bruce Experience: Community Gardening as Part of the Therapeutic Process and to Provide Employment Prepared by Margaret Forbes Canadian Mental Health Association, Grey Bruce Branch Lynn Gates Minding Our Bodies Program Developer
  2. 2. “Gardening for Food and Mental Health” was prepared for the Minding Our Bodies: Eating Well for Mental Health project. Minding Our Bodies is an initiative of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario, in partnership with Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, Nutrition Resource Centre (Ontario Public Health Association),YMCA Ontario, and York University’s Faculty of Health, with support from the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport. For more information, visit Copyright © March 2011 This publication has been created for personal and public non-commercial use. The material may be reproduced, in whole or in part, without charge or further permission from CMHA Ontario provided that: CMHA Ontario is identified as the source of the material, the material is reproduced without any changes, and no charges are made for the use of the material. Prior permission must be obtained from CMHA Ontario if thematerial is to be reproduced in whole or in part for sale or other commercial purposes. For permissions enquiries, please e-mail 2
  3. 3. Table of ContentsIntroduction ............................................................................................................. 4Why Create a Garden? ........................................................................................... 6Gardening as Part of the Therapeutic Process ..................................................... 10Gardening as an Opportunity for Employment ...................................................... 12Organizational Challenges in Starting a Garden ................................................... 15Consumer Challenges .......................................................................................... 19Program Evaluation .............................................................................................. 21A Few Planning Questions to Get You Thinking…................................................ 23Appendix 1: Sample Participant Feedback Form .................................................. 31Appendix 2: Sample Job Description — Garden Workers .................................... 32Appendix 3: Sample Job Description — Garden Workers Coordinator ................. 33Appendix 4: Container Gardens ............................................................................ 34Appendix 5: Resources and Manuals ................................................................... 36Appendix 6: Organizations and Websites ............................................................. 37 3
  4. 4. Gardening for Food and Mental Health The CMHA Grey Bruce Experience: Community Gardening as Part of the Therapeutic Process and to Provide EmploymentIntroductionThere are many different types of community garden. They can be large orsmall and come in many shapes and sizes — whether a small herb garden, anaccessible raised vegetable garden, or a garden plot at a community agency,church or park. Each garden will be as unique as the community tending it.There are many potential benefits for mental health consumers participatingin a gardening program. Growing your own food is a great way to improvepersonal food security. Garden produce can provide extra fruits andvegetables for agency meal programs or be given to a local food bank.Gardening is also a way to help build a sense of community, promote activeliving and encourage people to work outdoors. For consumers, gardening canreduce stress and improve mental health, increase social interaction and helpto break down stigma.An online survey of community mental health agencies in Ontario, conductedin February 2010 by the Canadian Mental Health Association for the MindingOur Bodies: Eating Well for Mental Health project, found that severalrespondents had experience with community gardens, although none haddocumented their program. 1 Gardens were generally implemented as a wayof increasing the amount of healthy food available for consumers, but manyother benefits were observed. This manual has been prepared by theMinding Our Bodies project to capture the experience of one such program1 Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario, “Eating Well for Mental Health EnvironmentalScan: Online Survey Results,” May 2010, 4
  5. 5. and share it with other organizations that may want to start their owncommunity garden.The Grey Bruce Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association hasdeveloped and implemented two gardening programs for different groups ofconsumers. A successful garden project has been running for several years indifferent forms through CMHA’s Leisure Links, a group social recreationprogram. Most recently, their garden is located at a rented plot in aCommunity Allotment Garden. One staff person and several consumers visitthe plot weekly during gardening season to maintain the garden. The food isused by participants at home and in their community kitchen. Any surplus isdonated to the local food bank.The second gardening program, called Let It Grow, was developed as asupport to therapeutic treatment for consumers participating in a group forindividuals with serious mental illness and addiction issues. Participantsdiscuss healthy exercise habits and strategies to decrease substance use,including smoking, as part of the program, both informally and duringplanned sessions. These discussions also occur as part of individualcounselling focused on recovery. The Let It Grow program evolved from thisgroup to become a source of employment for consumers, who receivebenefits through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).The Let It Grow program provides information on healthy eating, plusexercise in the form of gardening and processing of garden vegetables.“Gardening for Food and Mental Health” is a “case study” that describes theCMHA Grey Bruce experience in creating the successful Let It Grow gardenprogram. This document also includes basic information to start you thinkingabout what type of garden project would best suit your agency. Additionalcommunity garden resources are listed in the appendices. 5
  6. 6. Why Create a Garden?Gardens produce food! • Community gardens can produce affordable fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables for mental health consumers and their families and friends. • Gardens can grow a variety of vegetables that may not be available in the local grocery store.Fresh produce is healthy! • Community gardening can improve people’s health by adding variety to their diet. • Many people want to know more about where their food comes from and how it was produced.Gardening is physical activity! • Gardening is Canada’s second most popular physical activity after walking. Gardening can be an excellent physical activity to keep you healthy. Before starting your garden this spring, check out the “Gardening Tips and Techniques” fact sheet from the Canadian Physiotherapy Association to prevent stiffness, soreness, and injury. See the “Appendix 5: Resources and Manuals” for details.Gardening promotes mental health! • Being out in the fresh air also produces psychological benefits. Just looking at trees and plants reduces stress. Even a small garden can improve your mental health. 6
  7. 7. • Gardening provides a form of emotional expression and release that helps people heal both mentally and physically.Gardening stimulates the senses! • Horticultural therapists find that gardening stimulates the senses, especially for older adults. The interesting sights, sounds, textures, and scents inspire memories and connections to the past. • Gardeners tend to be more optimistic and find life more satisfying than non-gardeners.Gardening increases social interaction! • Community gardeners get to know their neighbours, make new friends, and develop a feeling of belonging. • Community gardens can break down the barriers of isolation and create a sense of neighbourhood.Gardening encourages teamwork and cooperation! • Community gardens help people rediscover the rewards of being part of a group. • Working together provides an opportunity for community gardeners of all skill levels to share their experience and learn from others.Gardening builds a sense of community! • Spending time in a community garden provides an opportunity to meet your neighbours. • Creating a community garden builds local spirit and pride. • A friendlier, more united community can result from sharing information. 7
  8. 8. “In Grey Bruce, consumers received positive comments from people passing by the downtown garden.” — Margaret Forbes, CMHA Grey BruceGardens establish a positive community image! • The presence of community gardeners discourages criminals and vandalism. A green and groomed community garden shows that residents care about the property and each other. • Greenery helps people to relax and renew, reducing aggression. • The greener the surroundings, the fewer the crimes against people and property.2 “In Grey Bruce, community members voluntarily monitored the gardens and have called to let us know when there was a problem. Individuals have contacted the agency to ask to volunteer with the project.” — Margaret Forbes, CMHA Grey BruceGardens help the environment! • Gardens create a more liveable environment by managing noise, pollution, and temperature.Gardens can help to break down stigma! • CMHA Grey Bruce clients were working in public spaces and interacting with community members who stopped to talk. • Community members wanted to be part of the garden project, as it seemed to break down a barrier.2 Frances E. Kuo and William C. Sullivan, “Aggression and Violence in the Inner City: Effects ofEnvironment via Mental Fatigue,” Environment and Behaviour, Vol. 33, No. 4, July 2001, 543-571. 8
  9. 9. “One gardener noted he was more comfortable when talking about his mental illness and less ashamed when conversing with acquaintances. He attributed this to the community connections he made through the garden.” — Margaret Forbes, CMHA Grey BruceGardening develops skills! • Regular participants acquire gardening know-how. • Working in the weekly garden program teaches time-management skills. • Participants learn new cooking skills at harvest time. “In Grey Bruce, the garden crew made jars of salsa with their harvest. They also processed a large donation of apples — peeling, chopping and freezing them and canning apple sauce.” — Margaret Forbes, CMHA Grey BruceNUTRITION AND COMMUNITY GARDENSAccording to a survey conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, 3community gardeners consume a greater number of fruits and vegetablescompared to national averages, making them more likely to meet the dailygoal of 5 to 10 servings: 7.5 servings per day in the fall, and 6.3 servings inthe spring. • 70-80% consumed at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily • 95% shared produce with neighbours, emergency food service providers and others • 74% of gardeners preserved produce from the garden (through freezing, canning, pickling, and drying) • Of those families and individuals who participated in garden projects3 See Foodshare, “What Good Are Community Gardens?” 9
  10. 10. o 89% ate more fresh vegetables than usual o 96% planned to eat more fresh vegetables all year round o 79% learned a new way to prepare fresh vegetables.Gardening as Part of the Therapeutic ProcessThe Let It Grow gardening project started with a small group of young menwho were coping with serious mental illness and addiction issues and were atrisk of homelessness. The participants were at varying stages in theirrecovery. Most of the young men were in the “pre-contemplative” stage, asdefined in the Stages of Change Model developed by James Prochaska of theUniversity of Rhode Island. The model assesses an individual’s readiness toact on a new, healthier behaviour and provides strategies to guide theindividual through the stages of change to action and maintenance. For thisgroup, CMHA Grey Bruce adapted the K.T. Mueser Persuasion Group, atreatment program developed to support and engage individuals withconcurrent disorders at the pre-contemplative stage of change. 4 Thisrelaxed, non-directed group centred on preparing and eating a healthy meal4 K.T. Mueser, D.L. Noordsy, R.E. Drake, and L. Fox, Integrated Treatment for Dual Disorders: AGuide to Effective Practice, New York: Guilford Press, 2003. 10
  11. 11. together while talking about recent events and issues raised by the groupmembers. “Because I work in a Court Support Program, my goal is engagement of individuals in lifestyle choices and services that will keep them from coming in contact with the criminal justice system. In keeping with this mandate, we wanted to serve a group who historically has difficulty engaging with social services.” — Margaret Forbes, CHMA Grey BruceAs the group evolved, the members became more active in the planning ofthe meals. They often showed up early for the meetings and became moreengaged with the therapists and other group members. During the meeting,they would discuss issues such as medication side-effects, symptoms ofillness, substance use and housing issues. A common theme within thediscussions was boredom and the desire to obtain employment. The groupexplored several options for employment, such as self-employment,preparing a food product for sale (pizza dough or sprouts) and catering.Recent changes to the ODSP benefits program made self-employment adifficult process to initiate. The most feasible solution was to hire theseindividuals to grow produce for the CMHA Grey Bruce brunch program,which provides meals for 30-40 people per day, Monday to Friday. The fourindividuals worked alongside the therapist and an employment coach for thegarden season. The garden was an excellent way to learn basic job readinessskills, such as managing a schedule, problem solving, and behaviour in theworkplace, in a supported setting. It also provided individuals with a sense ofbelonging to something important. They received a great deal of positivefeedback for their efforts and were able to take support workers and familymembers to the site to show their accomplishments. It also changed theirrelationship with the agency. They felt more a part of the program. It wassuch a success that CMHA Grey Bruce expanded the garden initiative thefollowing year. 11
  12. 12. “In our public promotion of the garden, we did not draw attention to the personal stories of the garden workers, or what they were coping with. We described the community garden as a consumer initiative to gain employment and contribute to meals for those in need. I would call myself a Mental Health Worker, not a Release from Custody Planner.” — Margaret Forbes, CHMA Grey BruceGardening as an Opportunity for EmploymentThe gardening program provides an introduction to employment. Thefinancial compensation, although small, offers an incentive to engage inservices the participants may not otherwise pursue. When CMHA Grey Bruceannounced the program as an entry-level, very part-time job, they had nodifficulty finding participants. The response was so positive that they had toturn people away. They were selective in who they offered the program to,as they felt that individuals without concurrent disorders or difficultymanaging symptoms could find placement with other employment programs.Participation in the garden program was reserved for individuals who hadcomplex needs. 12
  13. 13. Linking Gardening and ODSPThe Grey Bruce garden project was run with the support of the ODSPEmployment Supports program and South Bruce Shores EmploymentServices, the ODSP designate for their program. CMHA approached SouthBruce Shores Employment Services to discuss the garden plans anddetermine what they could, or could not, fund. A contract was developedthat outlined the responsibilities of both parties.The agreement indicated that each participant would receive: • a $5 an hour hiring incentive for up to 3 hours per week, • two hours per week of job coaching, and • a $50 gift card on completion of 13 weeks of work.The ODSP Employment Supports program is set up so that the organizationproviding employment does not receive any money if the person hired doesnot successfully complete a minimum of 13 weeks of employment. The giftcard was intended as an incentive to finish the program. Two of the fourindividuals employed received gift cards. CMHA Grey Bruce then referredthe selected individuals to South Bruce Shores Employment Servicesspecifically for the garden project.CMHA provided each worker with a letter outlining the terms of employmentwith the agency and determined how they wished to receive their paycheques — either direct deposit or picked up at the agency. CMHA GreyBruce was responsible for: • tracking the hours for payroll, • ensuring that individuals completed forms for ODSP, and • submitting the pay stubs to the employment service program.Consumers were assigned to work a 1.5-hour shift in the garden as a groupunder the direction of the Program Coordinator. They were each responsiblefor organizing an additional 0.5 hours of independent gardening work per 13
  14. 14. week. A sample job description for the Garden Workers is located inAppendix 2.During the group shift they would tackle a large project like planting seeds,applying compost or weeding. A CMHA staff member or the Job Coach fromBruce Shores Employment Services was on hand to demonstrate and givefeedback while working alongside the crew.For the second year of the program, CMHA Grey Bruce expanded from asingle garden site to six plots. The number of consumers hired increasedfrom 4 to 15. Participants entered the program through self-referral or werereferred by counsellors in other programs. The gift card was eliminated andthe wage incentive was increased to $6 an hour.During the first year of Let It Grow, staff members found it difficult tocoordinate the Job Coach’s activities. Therefore, the model was adapted inyear two to eliminate the Job Coach position and create a Garden WorkersCoordinator position (see Appendix 3 for a sample job description). The wageportion in the second year was approximately $6,000, including the wage forthe Garden Workers Coordinator. The professional staff role became that ofstaff mentor, available for problem solving, organizing regular meetings,connecting with community partners, and making funding requests.Many benefits were noted over the garden season from this employmentmodel. In a evaluation of the program, individuals reported that theydeveloped friendships and camaraderie with their coworkers, enjoyedincreased self-esteem, health benefits such as weight loss and increasedphysical activity. Many of the individuals bought bicycles with theiremployment start-up benefits that were used to get back and forth to work. “We have had problems when we try to make it too much like a real job. We had to really focus on the importance of the people-building side of the role and garden, and not on the food-producing side, during debriefing sessions with the staff mentor.” — Margaret Forbes, CMHA Grey Bruce 14
  15. 15. Organizational Challenges in Starting a GardenThe Minding Our Bodies survey of mental health agencies found that thebiggest challenges to starting a healthy eating initiative were: • time required to develop a new program, • funding, and • staff resources and time required to coordinate and deliver an additional program.Staff at CMHA Grey Bruce offered the following advice on how to addressthese challenges when starting a garden program:Planning/Preparation Time to Develop the Program • Start planning in January for an April start-up. • Initially, plan to spend 4-6 hours per month organizing a garden project. • If forming contracts with your local Parks and Recreation Department to use city land, start asking for the paperwork months in advance so you can dig by April.Assessing Your Needs: Time, Money, Materials and Know-How • Soil — Dirt is the biggest expense. Garden soil is much cheaper when purchased by the truckload rather than in bags. CMHA Grey Bruce was able to obtain discounted pricing and donations of supplies by explaining the program to suppliers and garden centres. • Tools and Supplies — A supply list would include rakes, hoes, shovels, gardening gloves, wheel barrow, watering hose, watering can, and so on (see “Appendix 5: Resources and Manuals” for more information). If water isn’t available at the garden site, ways of getting water and supplies to and fro will be needed, such as bikes, carts, etc. Materials 15
  16. 16. such as wood nails, additional soil and plastic tubing will be required to make raised beds. If the plot is located in a communal garden, you may be able to reduce start-up costs by sharing equipment. • Mulch — Using lots of mulch is considered to be an “intensive gardening method” and helps to save time spent weeding as well as preventing moisture loss. • Compost — Compost enriches the soil. Municipalities often offer free compost. • Seeds — Carrots, peas and beans grow pretty easily from seeds. If there is a local seed company, they may be willing to donate seed packages. • Plants — Local garden retailers may be willing to donate seedlings. If you can get the word out through local media that you are starting a garden, you may have plants donated by home gardeners as many have leftover plants and cuttings. “One of the participants saw a neighbour throwing out plants they couldn’t use and he asked if he could have them for the garden.” — Margaret Forbes, CHMA Grey BrucePotential Sources of Funding • CMHA Grey Bruce initially received funding from the local public health unit through a Partners in Health grant (now the Healthy Communities Fund). CMHA Grey Bruce was able to pay for all of their start-up expenses plus the food and supplies for the cooking group with this $2,000 grant. • TD Bank Friends of the Environment Fund provided start-up money in the garden program’s second year of operating. • Other sources of charitable donations included: 16
  17. 17. o a church group, who raised money for seeds for the garden o Owen Sound jail guards, who raised money for the brunch program o the local hospital community, who raised money for the brunch program and garden. • Other potential sources of funding include the United Way, community foundations and large corporations. In Grey Bruce, for example, Union Gas provided start-up funds for another agency to begin a garden program at their site. • The Minding Our Bodies Toolkit at has further ideas for obtaining funds for food security projects.Material Donations • Initially the land used for the garden was provided by United Way Grey Bruce. • The following year, the City of Owen Sound donated space to create a Snack Garden in planter boxes and a community plot in a wading pool that was closed and filled in with earth and a plot near a large community centre. • Businesses donated their services and goods to the project, often without being approached. • 60 tomato plants were donated by a community member. • Grow light equipment to start seedlings in the winter was donated by the local police service. • Several people and groups contacted CMHA Grey Bruce to offer donations after hearing about Let It Grow. The local newspaper ran an article about the project which resulted in farmers dropping off extra harvest in the fall for the brunch program. A local community college 17
  18. 18. welding program heard about the difficulty in transporting water for the garden and made a very sturdy cart for transporting supplies and produce. “Talk up the project to everyone. You will be surprised at the support!” — Margaret Forbes, CHMA Grey BruceTime Required to Deliver the Program • During the summer gardening period, 1.5 hours per week was required to supervise the group of four garden workers. • Additional time may be required to complete administrative tasks. • Time is required to obtain materials.Finding Staff to Deliver the ProgramMargaret was passionate about gardening and had personal experience. Ifyou don’t have staff with experience, but they are interested in gardening,there are many good introductory gardening books (see “Appendix 5:Resources and Manuals” for more information).Local community gardening networks or horticultural societies may also be agood source of expert advice, as well as workshops and trainingopportunities for staff (see “Appendix 6: Organizations and Websites” formore information). Community Master Gardener groups have a mandate toprovide consultation and support community gardens. The service is free anda great asset to gardeners starting out. “Our gardens were all designed Ann Hagedorn, a local Master Gardener who had a passion for community gardens and local food production. She provided a planting guide for us to follow and ensured that the gardens would be attractive as well as functional.” — Margaret Forbes, CHMA Grey Bruce 18
  19. 19. Next year CMHA will be working in partnership with the Master Gardeners ofGrey Bruce, who contacted them to ask to be part of the garden project. It ishoped that they can attend the sites once per month to demonstrate arelevant garden technique and give feedback to the crews.CMHA Grey Bruce garden program members prepare to break ground attheir new community garden space, a filled-in wading pond located in apublic park in Owen Sound. Mayor Ruth Lovell Stanners took part in thegroundbreaking ceremony.Consumer ChallengesConsumers experienced several challenges to participating in the CMHA GreyBruce gardening program. For example, CHMA Grey Bruce found that theparticipants did not need intensive support in learning the garden tasks butthey did require more hands-on support with getting themselves to work. 19
  20. 20. “We do try to be welcoming and accept people where they are. Make it very easy for them to succeed and downplay the times when they make a mistake.” — Margaret Forbes, CHMA Grey BruceOther challenges the participants experienced are summarized in Table 1below.Table 1: Potential Consumer Challenges to Participating in a Gardening InitiativeChallenge What WorkedLack of • The gardens were within a walkable distance of each other. • We encouraged individuals to get bicycles with the Employmenttransportation Start-Up Benefits for which they are eligible. • Next year, the plan is to get funding for a bike trailer for transporting goods and supplies. • Staff members at the brunch program drove to the sites regularly to bring over supplies and to assist the workers at harvest time.Scheduling • Calling right before a meeting time was a good reminder and motivator.commitment • Working with other supports in the person’s life, such as ACT teams or supported housing, and staff from Bruce Shores Employment Services was an effective way to remind them of scheduled commitments.Food preferences • We planned with the brunch program to decide what we could grow. • Some of the crops were the preference of the consumers while some were new and interesting plants they wanted to try.Difficulty learning • Consumer participants found the gardening tasks were very accessible as opposed to other work or academic programs theydue to illness or had previously pursued.medication side- • Due to medication side effects on symptoms such as decreasedeffects motivation common to individuals coping with serious mental illness, hours were set at a maximum of two hours per weekParticipant • Paid employment was a huge motivator. • Gift cards were also offered as enticements for completing themotivation required 13 weeks of work. 20
  21. 21. • T-shirts related to the program were made for the garden workers. People stopped to ask them gardening questions, which gave them a sense of pride in their gardening skills. • Monthly barbeques were organized to bring the group together. • Once participating in the program, they wanted to learn more.Program EvaluationCMHA Grey Bruce adapted a participant feedback form from the resourcesavailable in the Minding Our Bodies Toolkit ( Acopy of the form is located in Appendix 1.Feedback was received from 66% of the group. This is what participantsenjoyed about the program: • watching the plants grow • friendship, work, self-esteem • having a chance to get back into the workforce • really liked the co-workers and supervisor • enjoyed the camaraderie “The workers noted the social benefits of working with the other gardeners. The garden provided the workers who were shy to converse with a great conversation topic.” — Margaret Forbes, CMHA Grey BruceThey rated the gardening experience at 4.3 out of 5 with regards to theiroverall experience with the project. One out of the 10 people interviewed didnot enjoy the program and would have preferred another type of job.Participants were observed by staff members to be: taking more responsibility better able to manage symptoms 21
  22. 22.  showing more insight and awareness eating healthier experiencing weight loss, and experiencing better management of conditions such as diabetes. One man who has diabetes lost 15 pounds during the summer that he attributed to his work in the garden program. “One man from the group asked the group home where he lives to prepare healthier meals — he would not eat a vegetable when he started the group.” — Margaret Forbes, CHMA Grey Bruce 22
  23. 23. A Few Planning Questions to Get You Thinking…Step 1: Defining Your VisionWho will be involved?Which staff members and clients do you want to include in planning theproject and participating in the garden activities? Who will benefit from theprogram?How many consumers will participate in the program?Three or four individuals is a reasonable number for one person to supervise,unless you can pair people up who have different skill levels. In Grey Bruce, afew participants will be designated as crew chiefs next year because theyshowed leadership skills and a sense of responsibility during the summer.How will you involve peer leaders?“We looked to the people we have at our agency, both staff and consumers,”explains program leader Margaret Forbes. “Individuals have approached usafter hearing about the project. This is how our coordinator came forward.He was already working and volunteering with our brunch program andexpressed an interest in being part of the project.”Do you need a work group?CMHA Grey Bruce started their garden without a garden committee butinvited people to participate as they went along. Next year, they will organizea group of volunteers in January and start divvying up the roles and tasks.What are the goals of your garden program?Do you want to have a garden as a way to improve personal food security foryour participants? Do you want to grow fruits and vegetables to donate to ameal program or food bank? Or, is the process of working on the gardenmore important than the food? Brainstorm with staff and consumers abouttheir interests. 23
  24. 24. How long should the program run?For an agency to receive a hiring incentive through the ODSP EmploymentSupports program, the workers need to be hired for a minimum of 13 weeks.The other factor is the length of time it takes for the produce to ripen.Step 2: Finding a SiteCommunity gardens are usually found in little-used but conveniently locatedspots in the neighbourhood, where people can easily participate. You canfind community gardens near railway tracks, under power lines, and on flatrooftops. Community gardens can be created in a park, along a boulevard, orin an abandoned lot.The United Way in Owen Sound was very happy to have CHMA Grey Bruceuse an empty lot beside their building when the garden program first started.In order to expand the number of gardening sites in their second year, CMHAapproached the city’s Land Use Committee, which unanimously supportedthe idea of providing land. It was important that land was in a high-trafficarea, easily accessible within the downtown core, and was a reasonable sizeto work with (not too large). Produce was even grown in a few planter boxesand an individual was assigned to water them.Does a community garden already exist in your community?Find out by contacting your local public health unit, rotary and horticulturalclubs, city parks department and other community planning organizations.Getting involved in existing gardens will save you much time and energy andreduce duplication of effort.Is your site safe for gardening?Make sure your site is environmentally healthy. Contact your municipalgovernment to see if they will test the soil.What size plot?Keeping the plot large enough to get a good harvest but small enough not tobe overwhelmed is important. CMHA Grey Bruce chose a number of small 24
  25. 25. sites (30 x 40 ft) with 3 or 4 people assigned to each site and one worker tothe planter boxes.Does location matter?High-traffic areas are better monitored than low-traffic ones to preventvandalism. A fence around the site is a bonus but not necessary. Signageinforming the community about the garden was helpful both in gainingcommunity interest and in protecting the project from vandalism and raiding.How will you make water available?If there is no access to running water at the garden site, you may need to askyour neighbours for help. CMHA Grey Bruce had to drive people with waterto one plot, until a local printing company donated empty plastic cubes(which had contained vegetable-based inks), and the local DowntownImprovement Association delivered water to fill them as needed. No garden site available in your community? Try container gardening. See Appendix 4 for more information. 25
  26. 26. The City of Owen Sound donated space to create a Snack Garden to the CHMA Grey Bruce garden project. They planted four large 6-by-3-foot planter boxes, downtown along the river, with cherry tomatoes, patio cucumbers, beans, nasturtiums, sunflowers and peppers. “This is a fairly busy place and passersby were encouraged to help themselves. It was pretty and also drew attention to the need for healthy food as we had signs describing the project in the boxes.” — Margaret Forbes, CMHA Grey BruceStep 3: Preparing the Site • Organize volunteer work crews to clean and lay out the site. Consider past uses of the land — e.g., is there any contamination? • Plan to include a storage area for tools and other equipment, as well as a compost area. • Determine whether participants will do certain things cooperatively (such as turning the soil in the spring, planting cover crops, or composting). • Lay out plots and paths with rope or wooden stakes. • Orient the plots along a north-south axis, that is, with the longest sides running from north to south. This will give plants maximum exposure to the sun and minimize shading problems. • Arrange plots in rows, squares, rectangles, circles or spirals. Be creative, as long as you keep in mind the sun requirements for your plants. • Make main pathways 1.2 metres (four feet) wide and paths between garden plots a minimum of 75 centimetres (30 inches) wide to allow for wheelbarrows. 26
  27. 27. • Till the garden plots and remove weeds (and their roots) once the soil is tilled. • Add organic matter — compost, leaf-mould or well-rotted manure — to enrich the garden soil.Step 4: Deciding What to Plant and Grow • Determine which produce would grow best given the site location and size of the plot. At CMHA Grey Bruce, they asked the participants what vegetables they wanted to grow. They also checked with their charitable meal program about what vegetables they needed. A good home gardening book will give you a list of what to plant, how and when. A Master Gardener also provided input into the planning and drew a beautiful garden plan for them to follow. 27
  28. 28. • Gardening is a bit of trial and error. Did you know that black walnut trees release a toxin that kills tomato plant flowers? CMHA Grey Bruce does!• Try companion planting. Companion planting is the system of growing particular combinations of plants together to improve their health and growth. The following list provides a few examples: o Grow nasturtiums near leaf crops to act as a trap plant for aphids. o Nasturtiums grown at the base of fruit trees can also drive away woolly aphids. o Provide shade for lettuce with tomatoes, reducing the occurrence of bolting. o Grow carrots, cucumbers, radishes and strawberries with leaf crops.• Think of growing space. Root crops do not require as much space (and sun) above ground, so grow plants with them that require less root space, but more above ground space: o tomatoes with carrots o lettuce with onions o bush beans with potatoes• Repel with smell! o Grow brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale) with aromatic plants (potatoes, celery, dill, chamomile, rosemary beets, onions and nasturtiums). o Brassicas do not do well with strawberries, tomatoes or pole beans. o Many insects do not like garlic. 28
  29. 29. “Once you have a plan, you just plant the plants and water them!”Step 5: Keeping It Going – Maintenance and Sustainability • Rotate your crops to conserve soil conditions. Crop rotation involves changing the place where you grow certain family groups of vegetables (e.g., legumes, brassicas) yearly over a three- or four-year cycle. This helps to avoid a build-up of pests and diseases and maintains a balance of nutrients in the soil. • Once you have been gardening for awhile, the compost from your own garden can be used to provide nutrients for the next year. 29
  30. 30. Step 6: Program Sustainability • Ongoing financial support is required for program sustainability. This requires a commitment from the agency to provide base funding or support for applying for grants. At CMHA Grey Bruce, this project was supported as it was beneficial to clients both therapeutically and through their receipt of garden produce in the brunch program. The gardening program was also beneficial in raising the agency’s profile in the community and was successful in getting the message out about mental health and food security. Good luck and happy gardening! 30
  31. 31. Appendix 1: Sample Participant Feedback Form Date: 1. What did you enjoy about being part of the garden program? 2. What skills did you learn from the work you were doing in the gardens? 3. How did participating in this work make you feel? 4. Would you participate in an activity like this again? If so, how? When? 5. What other employment activities would you like to participate in if given the opportunity? 6. Did you notice any health benefits from participating in the program? 7. Is there anything you would like to do differently next year? 8. Are there other similar activities you would like to see offered to you? 9. How would you rate your overall experience working in the gardens this year? What could we do to improve your rating? 1 2 3 4 5 Didn’t like it It was OK It was great! 31
  32. 32. Appendix 2: Sample Job DescriptionGarden WorkersDUTIES, RESPONSIBILITIES AND RELATED TASKS • Prepare raw foods donations for storage for brunch program • Install and maintain sprouting equipment as outlined • Complete all aspects of growing sprouts as outlined for sale and use in brunch program • Deliver sprouts to local stores for sale • Start and maintain transplants for spring planting in the kitchen gardens • Complete and submit time sheets to … • Employees will report to … at the beginning of their shifts to have duties assignedKNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS • Good organizational skills • Good communication skills • Pays attention to detail • Ability to work independently and as part of a teamWORKING CONDITIONS AND HOURS OF WORK • Expected to report on regular scheduled work days for a maximum of 2 hours per week. 32
  33. 33. Appendix 3: Sample Job DescriptionGarden Workers CoordinatorDUTIES, RESPONSIBILITIES AND RELATED TASKS • Reports to the Executive Director (or designate) • Establish and maintain garden beds • Plant vegetables in the garden spaces • Weed and water garden beds • Harvest produce • Deliver harvested produce to the CMHA Union Place Drop-In Centre • Complete and submit time sheets to CMHA office administrator • Assign workers daily duties at the beginning of their shift.KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS • Good organizational skills • Good communication skills • Pays attention to detail • Ability to work independently and as part of a team • Ability to problem solve with garden workers as issues ariseWORKING CONDITIONS AND HOURS OF WORK • Attend at the garden site on regular scheduled work days for up to 3 hours/week • Attend on other designated days per week for 0.5 hours to water garden beds as required 33
  34. 34. Appendix 4: Container GardensNo garden site available in your community? Try container gardening.Containers are a great solution for difficult areas like gravel or asphalt lots,balconies, rooftops or small sites. Anything that will grow in a regular gardencan be grown in containers.The size and depth of the container will dictate the type and number ofplants feasible. Most crops can also be grown in containers; however,compact tomato varieties, radish, lettuce, spinach, small bean varieties,strawberries and herbs all tend to do very well.Here are some tips for successful container planting: • Group plants with similar needs in the same container. • Don’t put shade plants with sun-loving plants; drought resistant species with plants that require lots of water; or every type of vegetable together. • Try planting a combination of shallow and deep-rooted plants to minimize competition for water and nutrients. • Take time to learn what works for you. • Use the right soil mix. Plain garden soil is too heavy and dense for use in container planting. You can buy pre-mixed growing medium or create a soil mix yourself by combining one part potting soil with two parts organic matter, such as compost, peat moss or composted manure. To improve drainage, builder’s sand is a good addition. Remember, always tailor the soil mix to the plants’ needs; the proportions of the mixes will vary depending on the plants. 34
  35. 35. Materials to Use • Container gardens can be built from wooden timbers or a variety of reused materials such as wooden packing crates, plastic pails, stacks of old tires, concrete sewer tiles, hollow logs, large fruit baskets or even old shoes! • The size of the container will depend on what you are planning on growing. • Remember to line re-used containers with landscape fabric or plastic and provide drainage holes at the bottom side of the container.Maintaining Your Container Garden • Container gardens need more water than plants in the ground. The amount and frequency of watering will depend on the type and size of your container and its location. Generally, container gardens require watering once a day and sometimes twice per day in hot weather. • Water thoroughly (until water comes out of the drainage holes) so the plants always have moist soil. • Monitor your container gardens carefully to develop a watering schedule that is based on the needs of the plants.For more information about container gardening, see “Appendix 5: Resourcesand Manuals” below. 35
  36. 36. Appendix 5: Resources and ManualsBerman, Laura. How Does Our Garden Grow? A Guide to Community GardenSuccess. Toronto: FoodShare, 1997. Available to order ($25). Physiotherapy Association. “Gardening Tips and Techniques:Proper Movements and Tools Will Extend Your Gardening Season.” Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin. Garden Handbook., Job S. “Urban Agriculture: A Guide to Container Gardens.” “Container Gardening.” FoodShare Learning Centre Toolbox., Lois. Growing Opportunities: A Social Service Agencys Guide toGarden Programming. Toronto: Evergreen, 2008., Joseph G. “Vegetable Gardening in Containers.” Texas AgriLifeExtension. Healthy Communities Coalition. “Healthy Food, Healthy Community:A Community Action Guide.” Second edition, 2006. of Missouri Extension. “Community Gardening Toolkit: AResource for Planning, Enhancing and Sustaining Your CommunityGardening Project.” 2009. 36
  37. 37. Appendix 6: Organizations and WebsitesAmerican Community Gardening Associationhttp://www.communitygarden.orgThe Mission of the American Community Gardening Association is to build community byincreasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United Statesand Canada. Visit the website for learning materials and links to related resources.Canadian Organic Growershttp://www.cog.caCanadian Organic Growers is a national charitable organization whose members includefarmers, gardeners, processors, retailers, educators, policy-makers, and consumers.City Farmer Newshttp://www.cityfarmer.infoCity Farmer teaches people how to grow food in the city, compost their waste and takecare of their home landscape in an environmentally responsible way.Community Food Security Coalitionhttp://www.foodsecurity.orgCFSC provides a variety of training and technical assistance programs for community foodprojects; supports the development of farm to school and farm to college initiatives;advocates for federal policies to support community food security initiatives; and providesnetworking and educational resources.Compost Council of Canadahttp://www.compost.orgFind information about the how-to’s of composting.Evergreenhttp://www.evergreen.caEvergreen is a funder and facilitator of local, sustainable greening projects in schoolyards,parks and communities across Canada. In addition to funding, Evergreen provides training,design and maintenance advice, and a range of print and online resources.FoodNet Ontariohttp://www.foodnetontario.caFoodNet Ontario is a province-wide network of organizations and individuals working 37
  38. 38. together to create sustainable local food systems and achieve (community) food securityin communities across Ontario.Food Security Learning Centre: Community Gardens goal of the Learning Center is to provide tools to build a truly food secure world that issustainable and healthy for all people, communities, and the environment. From gettinglocal food into school meals to promoting farmers´ markets in food insecure communities,the Learning Center offers blueprints and examples of models that work.FoodSharehttp://www.foodshare.netFoodShare is a non-profit community organization that operates innovative grassrootsprojects that promote healthy eating, teach food preparation and cultivation, developcommunity capacity and create non-market-based forms of food distribution.GardenGuides.comhttp://www.gardenguides.comA guide to “everything gardening,” including information about plants, garden design,gardening spaces, pests and diseases, gardening phases, organic gardening, and more.Master Gardenershttp://www.mgoi.caFor gardening tips, Master Gardeners of Ontario Inc. is made up of local volunteers whogive guidance to home gardeners. Visit the website to find a Master Gardener near you.Ontario Horticultural Association Ontario Horticultural Association is a volunteer, charitable organization whosemission is to provide leadership and assist in the promotion of education and interest inall areas of horticulture and related environmental issues in Ontario.Sustainable Table: Serving Up Healthy Food Choiceshttp://www.sustainabletable.orgSustainable Table celebrates local sustainable food, educates consumers on food-relatedissues and works to build community through food.For additional resources, visit 38