Can You Dig It volunteers prepare to get their hands dirty.

‘Can You Dig It’ with posAbilities and its partners
Kristian Partington

In one day, a vacant slice of urban land can be transformed into a space for community growth — a place where people of all stripes can gather with the common goal of nurturing a garden and fostering relationships.

   Cinthia Pagé helps facilitate these transformations as the co-ordinator of posAbilities’ Can You Dig It initiative, and she says the benefits of creating community gardens are immense.

In addition to gardeners having access to local, organic produce, Cinthia says people who may face barriers to community inclusion have a new path to connecting with their neighbours through the gardens.

Everybody is welcome to apply for a garden plot, but special consideration is given to new Canadians and people who have disabilities because community gardens can be a catalyst for community inclusion. 

“When you’re in the garden, it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you do for a living,” says Cinthia, “everybody just blends together over a common activity or a common goal.”

The gardens become the centre of a community network through activities, workshops and potluck dinners, while highlighting partnerships between agencies like posAbilities, Mosaic, which helps new Canadians settle in the region, and the Simon Fraser Society for Community Living.

A new Can You Dig It partnership has also sprung up with the BC Cancer Society, which Cinthia says looks to highlight the importance of healthy eating for cancer prevention.

A garden filled with fresh vegetables is a natural symbol of healthy eating, and this is why they seem to be springing up all over the lower-mainland.

On May 14, the transformation will take place again on a city-owned plot on Kaslo Street, across the road from the 29th Avenue SkyTrain Station.

Cinthia says she expects a massive turn-out of volunteers who’ll work together to create this newest community garden with materials donated by Paraspace Landscaping.

As the sun rises that morning, it will shine upon wasted space. When it sets, the shadows will fall upon a garden where herbs and vegetables will grow as a symbol of the push for a more inclusive society.

PosAbilities and its partners co-ordinate 20 gardens alone, and at least 50 others organized by other parties dot communities in the region. 

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