There's a brand-new vegetable garden at the Art Gallery of Algoma, thanks to the Sault Youth Association and Pauline's Place Youth Shelter.
Today, they all got together to officially break ground on the Roots to Youth Garden, a community project that's going to feed the stomachs, minds, hearts and spirits of local youth.
"The goal of the project is to instill a healthy lifestyle and teamwork, all while enjoying the outdoors and learning about growing their own produce," said Lisa Vezeau-Allen, Sault Youth Association executive director. "The harvest will be shared by the youth participants and we are lucky to have instruction and assistance from the People's Garden at Algoma University."
The Sault Youth Association and Pauline's Place decided on a garden as a way to involve local youth in working together to improve their health and lives.
The garden at the gallery is Phase 1 of the project and Vezeau says there are big plans in the works.
They're hoping to have a second garden on site at Pauline's Place.
The group also hopes to offer youth participating in the Roots to Youth Garden a cooking class led by a professional chef who will teach them how to use what they grow.
The third component the group hopes to introduce in a future phase is a physical activity program led by a licensed personal trainer.
"Gardening is teamwork," Vezeau-Allen said. "It's getting into the soil and getting out from in front of your DS or your Xbox or your computer and getting back to the basics."
Vezeau said the garden can become a fertile ground for healthy food and conversations about everything from eating economically, working together with your friends and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
She also says it's a healthy way to bring together community partners like the gallery, the Sault Youth Association, Pauline's Place and project supporter Club Calabrese.
It's also an opportunity for the youth of the community to visit a place like the Art Gallery of Algoma and to discover another place they might like to explore.
"It is not just about teaching youth how to grow a row of beans or a batch of lettuce, it is about guiding them to make healthy food choices, engage in physical activity and work together toward a common goal," says Vezeau-Allen, "This also gives our local 'at-risk' youth access to community hubs such as the art gallery and we welcome their support and participation."
Tiffy Thompson, Sault Youth designer and youth strategist (seen with Art Gallery of Algoma Director Curtis Collins) will be on hand at the garden to watch over it and work with youth who want to join her.
The youth from Pauline's Place will benefit from this project, but youth from the community at-large are welcome to join in.