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A submission from Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon, SK for the Indigenous Garden Program this summer that now will be carried over to the winter in the greenhouse. We have photos and permission forms from the offenders.
A New Opportunity to Connect with Mother Earth
It all started with an existing small garden plot as inspiration, how to grow a garden. One of the patients approached Pennie Janzen with the idea of growing their own garden at RPC as a means of giving back to the community, learning a skill he always dreamed of, and providing for the kitchen. This spring, SPO Pennie Janzen, worked with a group of 4-6 patients, primarily Indigenous men (however, all were welcome), who worked together to grow a large garden from seed. The group learned about germinating seeds, caring for seedlings and planting a garden. They also learned a lot about what plants grow well together, the ‘three sisters’ method of using Corn and Sunflower plants as a trellis for beans to grow on. The list of what they did not grow is likely shorter than what they did grow! They grew all the common items you would find in a garden like: Several varieties of tomatoes, potatoes, corn, peppers, pumpkins, watermelon, lettuce, peas, beans, squash, zucchini and some non-traditional items like cantaloupe, honeydew, cucamelon! The patients were most surprised, and proud of the size of some of the potatoes! Some potatoes were enormous, one would easily feed a family! The group also learned about growing flowers to beautify the grounds and later harvest to press flowers for crafts. They had homework to read up on gardening such as how long to germinate different seeds, propagating and kept a journal of their new found knowledge.
The patients were dedicated to the horticulture project. They noticed how working in the soil, with Mother Earth improved their mental health. They found it very rewarding to be able to donate hundreds of pounds of delicious, fresh produce to the Friendship Inn, Saskatoon Foodbank and Learning Centre as well as provide for the kitchen to share with all inhouse patients. In addition to learning from seed to harvest, the individuals learned to prepare some snacks from their produce such as zucchini muffins, and a variety of soups for the institution. This was the first year for the Indigenous Horticulture Initiative, with bigger plans and goals for next growing season! The group is looking forward to getting the on site Greenhouse going this fall to provide fresh herbs, lettuce and tomatoes for the kitchen throughout the winter months, as well use the space to start seedlings for their expanded garden Spring 2024! This project has been a labour of love and loads of pride that is evident in everyone’s smiles!