Initiative bringing out the beauty of the community, says co-ordinator
Deron Hamel

A gardening project that’s bringing together people accessing services from posAbilities and people accessing services from MOSAIC, an organization dedicated to helping immigrants and refugees settle into Canadian society, is capturing the spirit of diversity, says Cinthia, a project co-ordinator involved with this initiative.

The Can You Dig It program, which was launched last year, has already involved more than 280 people, and created eight community gardens — gardens that are created collectively by a group of people — in the Vancouver area, she adds, noting at least 10 more community gardens are expected to be created in 2011, with six already confirmed.

“Through the community gardens we want to achieve community inclusion (and) empowerment,” says Cinthia.

“(This project is) one way to bridge with the community and band together. . . . It’s (bringing out) the beauty of the community; the people and the link between them.”

People involved with the project are working in collaboration with Ladybug Art Gardens, a social enterprise providing landscaping and maintenance services.

PosAbilities and representatives from MOSAIC are currently planning how many gardens the two groups will be building this year, and discussing what resources are available and who wants to be involved.

“We hope to have a mix of people from different backgrounds (working on the gardens) — gardens that involve people with disabilities, immigrants, refugees, seniors, youth — to really have a mosaic of people involved (and) really open the dialogue,” says Cinthia.

Sherman Chan, MOSAIC’s director of settlement services, says the organization has several goals it wishes to accomplish through this initiative.

These include inviting 240 newcomer families to establish and maintain gardens at their homes, presenting successes to national and provincial conferences and to market the concept “by way of producing four newspaper/magazine stories in local and ethnic media, world cafes and discussion forums, website, etc.”

Community gardens are being built on land owned by the City of Vancouver, and they are also being built in the backyards of group homes owned by posAbilities.

Cinthia notes that there’s no specific plan for creating the community gardens — it depends on where each garden is being built and the needs of the people involved.

“We start working with the people and talking about what the garden could look like (and) how do they want to get involved,” she says.

The project has received funding support from BC Social Venture Partners, the Vancouver Foundation and area civic governments.

 If you have any feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)