A greenhouse will boost the capability of Houston Link to Learning's main community garden. (Anqelique Houlihan photo)

Community garden receives COVID relief grant

Money comes from District of Houston fund

Houston Link to Learning has received just under half the amount of money it requested from the District of Houston for its 2021 community garden program.

The organization had wanted $21,200 from a COVID-19 relief fund set up by the District but was granted $10,000 instead.

The money will be used to support the community garden project which combines food security with teaching literacy and numeracy skills.

“We are really happy about the $10,000 for the community garden. It will enable us to run programming that we don’t normally have the funding to do,” said Link to Learning executive director Marian Ells in appreciation of the grant.

“It will also help us to run individual or smaller groups at the garden rather than larger groups due to COVID. We are planning a small group (hopefully if the situation with COVID has improved) for our ‘Ground to Table’ project.”

Many first-time gardeners came to the community garden last year because of COVID and the project this year will teach them more gardening and cooking skills.

Council was first presented the budget request last month but deferred a decision until Ells could make a presentation.

The money allocated to Houston Link to Learning comes from $100,000 set aside by the District last fall to assist community groups affected by the pandemic. And that amount comes from a provincial grant of $1.066 million provided to the District to spend as it sees fit on COVID relief measures.

The Royal Canadian Legion was the first community group to receive a grant — $5,400 to help finance its community van program which provides rides and deliveries for veterans, seniors and low income residents.

In a written presentation to council, Ells called the community garden project a cornerstone program as it provides an informal way to teach literacy and to encourage people to grow their own food.

“The effects of COVID-19 on our mental health and well-being have yet to be realized. The great thing about the community garden is that because it is outdoors, we can run it even if we still have restrictive protocols. Community members are looking to get out and learn something new, many are struggling with food security issues and isolation.”

The $21,200 wanted from the District amounted to under half of the $45,750 set out by Ells as the budget for the planned 2021 community garden season which would run from April to October.

Houston Link to Learning already has $10,400 secured from its community adult literacy program, $2,000 from the Dungate Community Forest for greenhouse supplies, $3,000 from its early years program and expects $9,100 from a federal summer jobs program.

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