Even on vacation I love to visit interesting gardens, greenhouses and farms and my visit to Roots to Harvests' Urban Youth Garden was nothing short of inspirational! Before I left Thunder Bay in 2008 I waited for the bus every day infront of an empty urban lot at the corner of Algoma and Cornwall. One day I was glad to see that someone was making use of the space and improving the neighbourhood, but I wasn't sure what they were working on. I was delighted to find on my return that the space is not occupied by a new building but has been transformed into a lovely urban garden that in turn blossomed into a great community cornerstone.
Right in the heart of the Port Arthur/Bay St. neighbourhood this urban agricultural project is run by a small but dedicated group of youth aged 15 - 18 as part of a summer of experiential agricultural training that also includes some very cool opportunities such as: bee keeping, fruit harvesting, beef farming or volunteering in soup kitchens.
I am so inspired and elated to see a project like this take a whole food system approach, working as part of the urban ecosystem and brainstorming together to develop sustainable and organic approaches to food security issues we face in our communities today. Roots to Harvest is doing an incredible service not just for the youth who work on this project, or the neighbours who purchase fresh produce from their roadside farm stand, but for our entire community mindset. Hopefully these budding horticulturalists will leave their "of the earth" experience with a sense of being part of the food chain instead of an observer and with the innate knowledge and experience necessary to assist in building a food secure community in Thunder Bay.