So much great food work happening!
“Thursdays are my favourite day at the farm,” says gardener and organizer extraordinaire Jayme Melrose. Her strawberry blonde hair and infectious smile were nearly as warming as the sunshine that poured over Halifax’s Common Roots Urban Farm. Located in one of the highest traffic zones in metro, Common Roots overlooks the Robie/Quinpool intersection where Queen Elizabeth High School once stood. It can be described as a hybrid garden or a restorative landscape but simply put, it’s just beautiful.
I’m not talking about the flowers or the view of the Halifax Commons during sunset (though those aren’t hard on the eyes). What makes the restorative landscape a beautiful place is the teamwork, people, and togetherness you feel when you walk onto the farm.
Common Roots is managed by a registered charity called Partners for Care that focuses on supporting Capital Health patients. It opened last year as a pilot project, hoping to inspire and boast socially and ecologically productive landscapes. The urban farm is open to all visitors between noon and 6 p.m. It has everything from community plots to edible landscaping.
The ultimate goal of the Common Roots Urban Farm is to increase community awareness and involvement by promoting a holistic approach to personal health. It shows the importance and empowerment that comes from growing your own food and reaping the rewards.
Jayme mentioned her favourite day is Thursday because CEED’s Youth Employability Project (YEP) participants visit the farm.
By going to the farm, the youth (between the ages of 15 and 21 years-old) learn both life skills as well as practical, employable skills.
“I think in terms of entrepreneurship opportunities, there are some really interesting ones upcoming in urban agriculture… And I feel even though our economy right now isn’t all about farming, it has for most of human history and I think it is likely to be again,” says Jayme, who has an obvious passion for the community.
Each week, YEP participants assist in the growth and maintenance of the farm and at the end of the evening, following all their hard work, there’s a barbeque. I jumped at the opportunity to go to Common Roots with youth navigator Alana Cuvelier. And no, not just at the thought of free food! She described the kind of work they do, the gratification and most importantly the kids. She spoke so highly of them and their potential.
Alana also stressed the importance of YEP working on the farm with Jayme.
“Having a positive experience with an open and supportive mentor can make a huge difference in steering them on the right path and influencing the decisions they make in their life.”
From meeting them, it became clear how capable, strong and open minded they are. I was speaking to one girl who was about the same age as me. We talked about bus routes and which ones we prefer. She casually mentioned the added challenge of getting her young child to the babysitter. It dawned on me that these youth have a lot more going on than someone like me could even imagine. This provided some great perspective but also shows how unaware I was of her situation. The Common Roots Urban Farm is a great place to come together and work as a team regardless of any differences or barriers.