Pathways to Food Security
Earth Connections Garden Centre is about 20 minutes west of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada, on 40 acres of land mostly made up of natural prairie grasses. Although beautiful to look at, the land is mostly sand (89%) which makes growing a variety of vegetables very difficult. This led us to begin searching for a sustainability solution.
The Garden Tower
As our community was looking for a way to grow healthy food, one of our members came across the Kickstarter campaign for the Garden Tower. We placed an order for 3 Towers and eagerly awaited their arrival. They arrived in April of 2015, and within 5 weeks of starting our Garden Towers we were harvesting fresh food. It was amazing!
After seeing the wonderful results of growing with the Garden Tower (GT), we contacted Garden Tower Project. Our timing was right, and in May of 2015, Earth Connections Garden Centre was established.
From the beginning, the focus was to incorporate the Garden Tower in communities (particularly in more remote and food insecure areas), schools, food banks, seniors residences, health care facilities, and in individual homes in urban areas. Over time we have learned and evolved, incorporating other growing methods including raised beds, cold frames, and greenhouse growing. We offer materials and support to empower people and communities in achieving their goals. In the summer of 2018 we started phase one of our own self-sustaining food forest project which will provide a variety of fruit, nuts, and vegetables. It will also benefit pollinators and birds, and become a therapeutic space to enjoy. This project continues to evolve, and we are enjoying experimenting with different plant varieties.
Education, Nutrition, and Therapy
The benefits of gardening in schools are many. When used with STEM curriculum, teachers are able to use Garden Towers, EarthBoxes, and other indoor growing methods right in the classroom to assist with hands-on learning of science and math. Having the opportunity to prepare and taste food they have played a part in growing encourages healthy eating and builds an awareness of the origins of food. Also, the students experience therapeutic effects when working with the plants. Gardening allows students and people of all ages to unwind and focus on the nurturing of the soil, worms, and plants. We have witnessed the wonders of this “horticultural therapy” first hand!
Senior citizens and those with reduced mobility also experience significant positive impacts through gardening. We have placed several Garden Towers in senior care homes and assisted living facilities. Those with mobility issues are especially pleased that the Tower rotates and is easily accessible.
Check out our Community Projects page to see many of the programs we’ve been involved with.
Support through first-hand experience and knowledge sharing is a key part of our philosophy. Earth Connections provides a complete package of tools and support.
As many communities are remote and have limited access to quality produce throughout most of the year, Garden Towers and other alternatives to traditional gardens can make a significant impact. Working with so many groups and individuals, discussing food security has been amazing! We are very proud and honored to have been recognized by the Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development for our work.
We are always pursuing new and exciting opportunities to promote education, food security, and sustainability.