After discovering an empty and unused space within St. Mary’s First Nation, Melinda Paul had an idea to start a community garden.
Community gardens are a place where people come together to grow various fruits, plants and vegetables. They are known to contribute to a healthy life-style through physical activity, relieving stress, creating a sense of community as well as providing affordable and sustainable food for community members.
Not only does Melinda work as the Office Administrator here at JEDI, she also works as the Food Mentor within her community. In this position, she facilitates 6-week cooking courses for community members to teach them how to cook delicious three-course meals.
Melinda hopes that in the future she can incorporate the food from the garden into her teachings, “I would love to teach members what to make with the food they’ve grown themselves.” She adds that she looks forward to “seeing people excited about accomplishing goals and seeing the outcome of their hard work.”
Melinda says that the project will be broken into stages. The first stage of this project is to get the funding, which has already been achieved. Next up is to get the land cleared, fences and beds built, and to mobilize with community members so that they can create a shared vision for the garden.
The second phase will focus on education, workshops on how to begin planting and how to sustain the garden as well as engaging with students and teachers at the Chief Harold Sappier Memorial Elementary School (CHSMES) and other surrounding schools.
Finally, the third phase will be to maintain the garden to ensure that it is successful.
The garden will be located at the Ball Diamond Space (behind the pool area) on St. Mary’s First Nation and will be open to all community members. It is uncertain when the garden will be finished but Melinda is anticipating that it will be up and running within the next 12 months.
Melinda says she would love to see the garden being used as an outlet for community members to heal from whatever issues they may be facing. “I hope that this garden can provide a safe space for members to come and put their energy into.”
Overall, Melinda says her hopes are to see the garden making hearts happy, “we can never get enough of that.”