On Tuesday Alex and I went to the Dalhousie Women's Centre for their Mom and Me gardening program. It was the first time I'd been there, since I admit I always assumed the centre was for Dal students only. Turns out it's not, and is open to everyone in the community – and yes, that does include the men! Elizabeth, the centre's coordinator, will definitely make you feel at home.
The centre's community garden is a new, small garden essentially in the backyard of a house. It is open for you to use at anytime during the week, but on Tuesdays from 10:30am to noon they host a special Mom and Me time (open to dads, caregivers and grandparents too!). Along with the gardening fun, a volunteer does crafts and activities with the kids, like painting rocks for garden trim and making sprout people. When we were there on Tuesday the kids were having a great time with the sidewalk chalk – simple, but fun! The kids also loved planting marigolds and seeds, and are eager to return to watch their garden grow. Gardening with your kids is a great way to nurture a love of nature and help kids understand where their food comes from.
We try to garden in our own backyard, but I noticed a definite difference in how Alex gardened at the community garden. At home, Alex very much does his own thing and is busy 'planting' dandelions in flower beds and making 'soup' from whatever he finds. At the community garden, he wanted to join in with *real* planting and was eager to learn about the steps involved in planting a flower. Definitely an interesting difference for me to observe! Go figure, eh?
One thing to note about the garden is that unfortunately it is open at the back to the Dalplex parking lot, so if you have a toddler that tends to bolt it might end up being more stressful than relaxing for you! Elizabeth is aware of the issue and is looking at ways to create a barrier. Ideas are appreciated! At the moment they are looking at planting a barrier, but that will take time to grow.
Supplies are provided – just make sure the kids are dressed in clothes they can get dirty! The program is for kids of all ages – everyone is welcome!
Inside the centre, there is a living space, library, kitchen and playroom available for you to use anytime during the week. On the main floor, the living space has a TV/DVD/VCR and a comfy seating area, along with a computer with internet access (thank goodness – don't want to go in withdrawal, lol). The library is small, but well stocked, and there are children's books downstairs. The kitchen has snacks and cooking facilities, which you are welcome to use. The main floor is also wheelchair accessible. Downstairs there is a playroom packed full of toys and a 'green' room with seedlings and gardening supplies. There is also a picnic table and a bbq outside. It's a real 'home away from home' – Elizabeth says they want people to think of it as their rec room, a place to hang out, meet with friends, hold playdates and relax.
The centre's hours are Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm, but Elizabeth suggests calling or emailing first because the hours can change, though that doesn't happen often. You can reach the centre by calling 494-2432, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website here. The centre is located at 6286 South Street, the white house right in front of Dalplex.