Our Urban Roots Youth program kicked off this spring in April with helping hands eager to get dirty after a long winter. The spring showers kept us inside, planting seeds and repotting seedlings in our Allan Gardens and Regent Park greenhouse growing spaces. We had discussions and workshops on organic and permaculture techniques, learning about food forests, the seven guilds, and crop planning. Everyone was always eager to try different fruits and veggies, we prepared a veggie salad and fruit salad with every colour of the rainbow and learnt about the nutritional benefits of eating a colourful meal. We also saved the fruit scraps for planting, including a pineapple top and Chayote (Christophene).
As soon as the sun started shining, we were out in the school gardens. Spending most of our time between Sprucecourt Public School and Winchester Junior and Senior Public School, we began to prepare the gardens for planting. The youth are doing lots of forking, weeding, composting, and mulching before planting both seedlings and seeds in the gardens. We planted lots of spring time edibles, like radishes, turnips, herbs, and kale, and as the temperature increases we’re also planting our heat lovers, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants! We had our first harvest of mustard greens which the youth all got to bring home to share their delicious efforts with their families.
The youth participated in a sharing circle with an Indigenous Educator, they learnt about treaty responsibilities and how they apply to land stewardship. They tried cedar tea, sage smudging, offered tobacco in thanks to the trees, and planted corn as the first sister of the Three Sisters planting. We also collaborated with the Cabbagetown BIA and Restorative Landscapes to plant pollinator gardens on Parliament Street. The youth will continue to care for the gardens throughout the summer, helping to beautify public spaces for everyone to enjoy and engage with the community by holding pop-up events.
Planting day with Green Thumbs’ Urban Roots Youth and Restorative Landscapes
As we progress into the summer, with hotter and longer days, we look forward to the youth learning more about plant care, succession planting, and harvesting. We will also be participating in the Regent Park Good Food Market, harvesting produce for Paint Box Bistro and Catering, and collaborating in an intergenerational community garden plot to grow a medicinal garden with the elderly.