Wednesday, October 1, 2014

London Middlesex Master Gardeners Caring in Our Communities

Gate Area
Cheryl Losch, London-Middlesex

What do London Middlesex Master Gardeners do when they’re not busy working on LMMG projects? They put their gardening knowledge and enthusiasm to good use and volunteer within their own communities, of course.

London-Middlesex has a number of members that not only spend numerous hours each year helping home gardeners and the general public at various events, but also find the time to contribute both their expertise and handiwork to a wide assortment of activities throughout the area.

Nancy Abra has spent the past four years working with the Growing Chefs Ontario classroom program, a non-profit organization designed to get kids excited about growing and eating healthy food. Volunteers visit kindergarten to grade 3 classes to talk about different seeds, discuss various vegetables and help the children plant a windowsill garden for their class. The students learn how to make salad dressing and when it’s harvest time, get to taste the fruits of their labour. This is a remarkable program, connecting children with good, local food while giving them a hands-on experience. (

Palet Garden
Lee Anderson is involved in the Old East Village (OEV) Gardening project as part of a neighbourhood revitalization venture. One of the goals is to make OEV an arts and culture destination and an agri-food hub, and gardening was seen as one technique to help further that goal. According to Lee, “When I became involved, I thought about how we could tailor the Aeolian Hall double walled gardens so they had a music theme (much like the Stratford Festival has a Shakespearean garden) and had flowers aligned with the Victorian-Italianate architecture of the building”. Their four project sites include Aeolian Hall, Palace Theatre, Potters Guild and the Western Fair Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market. Upgrades included a raised bed kitchen garden (Aeolian) and plans for a living green wall (Palace Theatre), a sculpture garden (Potters Guild) and the planting of native fruit trees (Western Fair); hopefully the plans can be implemented in 2015. At Aeolian Hall, the team retained Roger Muma, a local artisan of Celtic harps, to make a prototype Aeolian Wind harp that was displayed at the Hall’s 10th anniversary this past July.
Stage Door Garden

Krys Anton and Tony Rudd worked on similar projects – both planting pollinator gardens at local churches. Funded by the Julia Hunter Fund, an endowed fund through the London Community Foundation that supports the creation of public gardens both Krys and Tony took up the task of planting native gardens to help encourage pollinators to visit. Tony explains, “Pollinators are attracted to flowers with the expectation of being able to feed on the flower’s pollen and nectar. In return, the pollen is spread to other needed plants. The purpose of this program is to make the public aware of the plight of pollinators in our environment.”

Donna Slater and Kim Pawley are involved with Middlesex Centre’s Growing Communities 'program. The purpose is to help beautify the natural areas, residential, business and town centres. Individuals, groups and businesses are invited to complete a special project by planting flowerbeds or container gardens, creating new gardens, planting trees or designing other outdoor features. A sign is provided to explain the project and the participants (groups or service clubs) are able to have their logo included.

Amy Turnbull, also a member of the Ingersoll Horticultural Society has created a teaching garden. Here, community members and those on food assistance programs are educated on how to grow their own vegetables. This year’s harvest included peas, beans, chard, turnips, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, popcorn, potatoes, squash and onions. The participants get to keep all their harvest too. According to Amy, “It's been great. The participants are bonding and enjoying the social aspect as much as the gardening that we do!”
LMMG members have found that working with like-minded community groups helps us understand our community better and also helps the community understand who we are, and what we do. A win-win situation.

No comments:

Post a Comment