A three part story by Lutia Lausane
This land in downtown Toronto has quite a history. We could go as far back as the Iriquois people who established trade routes along the many rivers and streams that feed into Lake Ontario. We could go back to learn from their tending of the Black Oak Savannahs which sprang up on the sand dunes left by a receeding glacier. The understanding then was that when we tend the land, the land gives back. This was in the minds of City Surveyor and Architect, John G. Howard and his wife Jemima Howard when they purchaced 66.4 hectares of land now known as High Park. It was John Howard to developed the original mental hospital on the property now housing the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, CAMH. And it was on this property that a small food agency, FoodShare, joined forces with people at the United Way and CAMH to develop an urban, organic garden, planted and tended by mental health survivors accessing the services of CAMH. This is Part 1 of a 3-part series. Watch as we break ground.
The energies of nature and the land are powerful. As we resonate and work with these energies as human beings, projects and relationships begin to grow. Once on the land, once the crops began to grow, new projects developed: washing out food boxes, sprouting in a 100-year-old greenhouse, bagging the sprouts, tending the crops, and behold, getting paid to do it! Just as the early Iriquois followed paths of trade, so modern Torontonians follow paths right through the land houseing the Urban Garden. And people became curious, new ideas developed. This was about more than mental health. This was about building community in a busy urban setting. Take a look and watch the partnerships grow.
Harvest season arrived, and so did the larger community, a colourful collection of neighbours, food enthusiasts, food professionals, lovers, young and old. The CAMH clients named their garden the Sunshine Garden, a testament to the age-old understanding that if we give to the land, the land gives back. Did mental health improve? Take a look.
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