The Growing Place Community Garden was developed by the Crescent Valley Resource Centre, located in one of Saint John, NB’s priority neighbourhoods. The project was formed in response to a regional need for increased access to both arable land and fresh produce. The idea to start a small garden began when families from Syria, many of whom were farmers before arriving in Canada, moved into the neighbourhood.
The garden opened in 2019 with 25 plots, and has continued to grow each year. Currently, the 42 outdoor raised beds are accompanied by the most unique feature of the garden: a 30’ x 48’ greenhouse containing 26 plots. The garden also features a smooth ground surface and seven raised plots to allow use by those with mobility limitations. Education projects are also a large part of our garden, including a large pollinator garden, a compost system, summertime monarch butterfly and chick raising projects, and regular educational workshops.
In 2021, The Growing Place had 68 plots in action, serving individuals, families, community partners, and the local food bank. We have approximately 100 people, including kids, who care for plots in the garden, and we estimate about 300 people benefit from the food grown in the plots. Our goal with this garden is not only to give people the chance to grow their own vegetables, but to create education and social opportunities for kids and adults. Getting more people outdoors to enjoy the wellness benefits of being around nature, providing opportunities for beginners to learn about gardening, and introducing children to growing food all create change in unexpected ways. Overall, we hope the community sees the space as a welcoming environment to grow both vegetables and themselves.
Gardening plays so many roles. From being a food source to a stress reliever to a social activity, it can improve wellness in countless ways. For some gardeners, it is a familiar activity they used to do, for others it is a new challenge to pursue, and for all it is a rewarding way to get fresh, local produce. The garden provides a space to learn and to connect with like-minded people.
The Crescent Valley Resource Centre runs many diverse programs and services other than the community garden, including a bike share program that repairs and redistributes donated bicycles, meal programs, a clothing room, a library, and many more. One interesting project we run as part of the garden project is raising monarch butterflies. Each year, we collect caterpillars from our milkweed plants, raise them safely indoors, then tag and release the adult butterflies. We release around 75 monarchs annually!
Learn more about the Growing Place Community Garden by visiting the website and Facebook, or visit the Crescent Valley Resource Centre on Instagram.