Planting for the Future
        I warn you straight out, now that the new  year has arrived I'm going to dish out some dirt. Even as the snow sits on our fields and gardens, the earth can feel the lengthening of days as nature begins its journey into spring. Pause with me for a moment while I describe a city of gardens that link communities one to another, a city that comes to be known as "the garden city" with its public and private gardens,  local food producers and community support groups all working together sharing ideas, expertise, and enthusiasm, and in doing so, making the world a better, safer place for our children. Welcome to 2008, the year of the gardens. Well I did say I was going to talk about dirt.
          Happy New Year. I hope Christmas provided you with some respite from the turmoil that has been playing relentlessly seemingly in every corner of the world. The snow did survive the pre-Christmas rain leaving us a white Christmas after all. And, in spite of all the news of corruption and assassination designed to nurture despair, the days have begun to lengthen. The earth can feel the change already as water  levels rise to the sun?s touch. Although it is still weeks before winter will release its grip, January thaw hints at what is to come.
          That?s what makes this the perfect moment to consider the possibilities of spring in the Kawarthas. Our neighbours' sheep and cattle are busy lambing and calving, bringing new life into the world, new reasons to celebrate what we have been given. This morning as I skied past the garden I paused to picture it as it will be in six months. As I stood there, the significance of community gardens to us all swept across me. Gardens offer this city the positive focus it needs to bring its diverse communities together. A garden has no gender bias; it transcends political, cultural, social, ethnic and class structures. Bringing life and beauty into the world lies at the heart of what we are as humans. It is the essence of hope.
          The time has come to plant for the future making 2008 the year of eating locally. Not only is eating locally the easiest thing in the world to do in this city, it is the best thing that we as individuals can do to help ourselves and our producer neighbours. What's more, my experience has been that growing my own food and flowers is 'way more fun than buying the stuff at a store. With community gardens supporting us, this whole process is going to get a lot easier and a lot more fun. 
          Community gardens can provide garden plots for people who don't have space of their own. They can provide workshops, advice, support, discount deals and seed swap opportunities for those who already have their own gardens. They can help to market the city as a beautiful, healthy destination for tourists. They can link local consumers with local food and flower producers thus eliminating toxic transportation gasses while supporting local suppliers. Most of all, though, in bringing us closer to the land that grows our food, gardens bring us closer to one another and to ourselves.
          Our garden dream has just begun to take form. Do you want the opportunity to make it serve your particular needs? That's what this month's planning meeting hopes to accomplish. We meet at The Health Unit on Angeline St. at 7 P.M. on Wednesday, January 9 to develop the rules  under which we will operate. If you like growing or eating or dreaming or just having fun then community gardens may be just right for you.
          Speaking of having fun, congratulations to everyone who participated in the world record walk last October. Although the Guiness judges haven't yet finished the huge job of verifying all of the signatures they have already announced Green Communities Canada's world record, making everyone of us who participated a part of Canada's history. Not bad eh. As final figures become available I will post them on our brand new web site which is www.towardbalancecanada.com . Pay us a visit there sometime. You see, we really can accomplish anything we want in this city; we just need to grow together. See you next time.
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