I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia checking out community gardens and meeting with the passionate folks growing food and supporting gardens. First stop was the Springhill Community Garden. There were so many things that make this garden a lovely place to spend time. A beautiful welcome sign, composting station, colourful signs on the beds, a shelter from the rain and sun, not to mention the members that stopped by for a celebratory BBQ. It was clear to me that a lot of love had gone into this garden. One success factor for this garden is the coordinator’s committee bringing together time and resources from partnerships with the Ecology Action Centre, Cumberland Health Authority, and the town’s Recreation Centre, among others.During the BBQ I asked questions about gardeners’ experiences. Do they eat more vegetables because of the garden? Do they share food with family and friends? There were two camps of people. Some that eat vegetables and cook regularly for themselves and found that the garden was a great supplement. Most folks said they eat more and share more because of the garden. One member shared zucchini with some friends who said they didn’t like them, then a year later one of those friends started growing it in their garden and using it in many recipes like zucchini loaf and pasta sauce. Another shared experience was valuing the vegetables coming from the garden, knowing that there are no harmful chemicals or pesticides used.
Just outside of Amherst we found Side By Each Farm. Run by Del Seto and her partner. They have a farm stand frequented by people to and from work in Amherst. They picked that location so their farm could be accessible to different folks. You can even walk or bike from town. The farm stand is on the honour system. Prices are listed and people make their own change. It has been a great experience and welcome income for busy farmers, who go to the markets in town as well.
Last stop was at the Hillside Villa in River Hebert. Hope Harrison was kind enough to spend some time talking to us about her life on a farm and her work to grow food for herself and other residents of the Hillside Villa, a housing complex devoted half to the elderly and half to folks on income assistance.
She shared with us, what she called the “Cumberland Three”: local blueberry muffins made from local maple syrup as sweetener, and jam made with local peaches. A very tasty visit to say the least!
I was inspired by my adventure in Cumberland County. In one of the Amherst gardens I found this rock that says ‘HOPE’, with beautiful pink flowers bursting forth. It sums up how connecting with gardeners, farmers and organizers fills my heart with hope.
Miranda Cobb, Community Food Researcher, The Our Food Project, contact me at: miranda at ecologyaction.ca