Sault College’s Continuing Education in partnership with the District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administrative Board (Ontario Works) and Destination North have completed the Community Garden Project. The non-profit Community Garden, built by community volunteers and individuals in receipt of Social Assistance, was built at its new location of Esposito Park (Queen and John Street). This is the second phase of a strategic partnership between Social Services, Destination North and Sault College.
The goal of the project was to recruit people on Social Assistance and provide intensive wood working skills from Sault College, helping these individuals find work in carpentry. Of the 19 students that have participated in the project, 3 have successfully found employment and 3 more are planning on returning to Sault College in the Fall for additional training.
“This type of initiative is exactly the approach to skills development that is needed,” notes Mike Nadeau, Commissioner, Social Services Sault Ste. Marie. “Practical, hands-on learning in a professional, supportive environment improves learning outcomes, increases self-esteem and promotes self-sufficiency. I am so proud of the work done by the staff in making this initiative happen,”
Community gardens are becoming popular in urban centers. They allow people who have no outdoor space to add to their gardening skills and grow their own healthy, nutritious food. The Canal District Community Garden will support and create a sustainable garden for all residents of Sault Ste. Marie.
“We feel the Canal Community Garden will be a vehicle for all participants to learn new gardening skills while working together,” states Justus Veldman of Millsquare Development. “In addition, members will take pride in knowing they are growing their own food. This community has already benefited from the gardens and will continue to do so,”
The Canal Community Garden mission is to support and create opportunities for all residents of Sault Ste. Marie, regardless of circumstances. The garden will have 30 garden boxes, 10 of which will be occupied by several community service groups such as the Soup Kitchen, Pauline’s Place and Vincent Place. The remaining 20 boxes will be for anyone wishing to grow vegetables with a membership base garden that will allow individuals, families or community groups to plant and harvest a variety of healthy organic vegetables.
“Aside from gaining hands-on experiences, these students will also be involved with creating beautiful new green spaces for our city. We are very excited to be a part of this partnership,” notes Al Tucci, Home Inspection program manager at Sault College. “In the spirit of building a better community, we are honoured to be a part of this progressive and empowering initiative with the help of many volunteers.”
With the introduction of the Canal Community Garden, the city now has 4 active community gardens around the community for residents to enjoy. Members of the media are invited to attend an official opening of the Queen Street and john Street gardens on Friday, June 20 at 11:00 a.m. For more information, please e-mail the District Canal Community Garden Committee at [email protected] or by phone at 705-971-7706.