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Submitted by Christine Whelan

July 8th, 2021 VOL. 2 ISSUE 23

Links for Greener Learning has partnered with the Salvation Army and the Multicultural Centre to bring people together, using one of our most basic activities that also connects individuals to the community, enhances essential skills, provides physical exercise, all while getting outside — gardening!

Links for Greener Learning (LGL), based out of St. Catharines, is an environmental charity organization that, according to their website, seeks to serve the needs of the community by promoting environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. LGL programs and initiatives focus on protecting and preserving our natural environment while providing meaningful social benefits to members of the community.

Yaneth Londono is the Executive Director of LGL. “One of the ways we achieve our goals is through organizing community gardens. We used to have gardens around Niagara. With this partnership, we have found a garden again. It’s at the Salvation Army.” She explained, they’ve partnered with the organization before.

The Salvation Army, located at 255 Gilmore Road, is an organization that has operated in Fort Erie since 1926, giving hope and support to communities by offering practical assistance for children and families. This often tends to the basic necessities of life, providing shelter for homeless people and rehabilitation for people who have lost control of their lives to an addiction.

Londono explained how LGL has also partnered with the Fort Erie Multicultural Centre this year. “Those who access the centre’s services, have access to this project.”

The Fort Erie Multicultural Centre, located at 50 Jarvis Street, is a social, non-profit, charitable organization with a mission of assisting newcomers arriving in Fort Erie who wish to settle.

About The Project

The Executive Director shared, “The goals of the project are to connect people with the environment while integrating into the community. They are given the opportunity to practice the language of the community.”

They also learn about food. “Everybody loves food. Food is a good way to connect, one with each other. To make new friends.”

It about getting back to basics. And just as important, “it’s what everyone has in common. There’s very little else we have in common. And it’s a part of our every day.”

Volunteers are always welcome. Those who know about gardening can teach others how to garden.

Yaneth explained they also offer cooking classes. “This is an online class. So, if anyone is interested in running a cooking class, this is another volunteer option.

She stressed the value of this project at this time. “This is so important these days because people need to be outside. It’s good to be physical. Gardening allows people to be physical.” We talked about how gardening used to be our way of keeping in shape naturally and reaping the benefits working with the earth provides.

Children are welcome to participate, “We encourage families to come together to work in the gardens. The kids can learn and it gives them a reason to be outside.”

All ages want to experience the community gardens. “We also have the seniors. They love the gardens. They are there all the time. They are so beautiful.”

Looking For Land

“We are looking for another space to build a new community garden.” As much as the Salvation Army garden is effective, it is small. “We have people waiting. We have more people involved than we have space for.  So, we are hoping by the end of this year, we will have space for a bigger garden.”

If you are interested in learning more about Links For Greener Learning or have space that might be an option to create another community garden, check out linksforgreenerlearning.org. You will also find Yaneth Londono’s contact information on the site.

Photos provided by Brie Smalldon

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