CORNWALL, Ontario – People are always looking for a quiet space to spend time away from the hustle and bustle of life, Rev. Erin McIntyre of Knox St. Paul’s United Church in Cornwall is hoping to create just such a space. She is working with congregational members and Dana Ducette, Vice Chair of the Eastern Ontario-Outaouais Regional Council of the United Church (EOORC) to create a community garden on church property.
McIntyre explained how after arriving at Knox-St. Paul’s three years ago she came across plans for a new garden space next to the church while setting up the church office. After speaking with congregational members, she learned there had once been a community garden next to the church, with document outlining plans for a new outdoor space for people to visit.
Kim Baird, a church member who is involved in the community garden project, explained the earlier community garden began a few years ago when “six church members with families and a few neighbours from the neighbourhood” were able to create garden plots which were planted with flowers or vegetables. She continued some who planted a vegetable garden were open “to let others pick as needed”, with congregational members assisting in watering the garden.
Building on the knowledge of the earlier community garden and the plans for a revitalization of the space, McIntyre discussed the plan with members of the EOORC and church members with the decision made to move ahead with the project. In an interview with Cornwall Seaway News, McIntyre described the project seeing the space as a blank canvas on which to create a place where one can connect with nature and with God. She mentioned the Church hopes to create a sustainable garden and a “life-giving place for all ages and stages” where the mind, body and soul can find sustenance.
McIntyre mentioned they were successful in receiving a grant from Canada Summer Jobs to fund a summer student position to begin the process of converting the grass-covered field into a garden for the community. The summer student will be developing a design and budget for the multi-year project and investigating different possibilities for the space.
These include creating a labyrinth, a pathway through the garden or a section of the space for growing food. She continued they will be reaching out for input from neighbours and other local stakeholders on their vision for the garden as well as establishing connections among community organizations.
Baird is “looking forward to engage community members in the planning process and seek community partners to move forward”. She commented how her “vision is to have people plant their own gardens and also offer areas of “pick what you need”, before mentioning how in years to come opportunities such as “how to plant gardens” or “community cooking classes” could be offered.
There are many hopes and dreams associated with this plot of land next to Knox-St. Paul’s United Church and committee members appear ready to meet the challenges of making them come true.