What better place to grow community than in the garden?
In an effort to connect to the Centennial neighbourhood, Frame Arts Warehouse (318 Ross Ave.) has initiated Art in the Garden, a project that combines community gardening with arts and crafts.
Members of the community, many of which are immigrants from Bhutan living in Harmony Mansion (201 Princess St.), grow vegetables in Frame’s garden boxes, as well as the Boy and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg boxes located outside Freight House (200 Isabel St.). Then, on Fridays at Frame, community members take part in a free artist workshop.
Frame garden co-ordinator Tanya Blatz said art projects have or will include batik, crocheting, card making, printmaking and clay sculpture, with instruction coming from Frame and other arts organizations like Art City and The Edge Village and Gallery.
Blatz said combining the two endeavors, gardening and art, just makes sense.
"They’re both just awesome expressions of being human," Blatz said. "They’re a good tool to relate to other people and they’re both pretty non-intimidating mediums."
The Art in the Garden project is funded by a grant from Neighbourhoods Alive! The project is also supported by the Centennial Community Improvement Association (CCIA). Gord Dong, vice-president of CCIA, said Art in the Garden is a great way to bring community members of different ethnic backgrounds together.
"To bring people out that normally don’t see each other," Dong said. "This is something people can have in common and get to know your neighbor. It’s a good thing and the byproduct of it that everybody gets fresh vegetables."
In addition to breaking down cultural barriers, Blatz said the project breaks down physical barriers because the participants have to walk from Frame to Freight House.
"It’s (the Freight House garden) just across Isabel but these big streets are a big deal when you’re not used to going past a certain way," Blatz said. "It helps that we’re breaking down these geographical barriers and walking people over to see what’s elsewhere. We’ve now got these people knowing about the Boys and Girls Club and Freight House and its swimming pool. It’s just an organic connection."
Grace Weigelt, co-ordinator for Youth for Eco-Action at Boys and Girls Club, said sharing the garden with Frame has been beneficial for the kids she works with.
"I thought it would be a really good opportunity for our youth to work with some newcomers and also with their children. Part of our program is to have our youth mentor and this is a good opportunity for them to learn some skills from other gardeners as well," Weigelt said.
Dong said the project is helping to fulfil CCIA’s goal to engage its residents, especially those new to the city and Canada.
"We’re trying to bring out everybody, not matter where you’re from, and just be part of the community," Dong said. "This is one step of bringing them (newcomers) out and then you try to encourage them to attend different events and learn more about our city, our province and our country."