The Assiniboine Regional Health Authority (ARHA) is offering workshops again this spring to help more people learn gardening basics.
This is a second year the health authority is hosting the spring workshops at health centres across Westman, bringing in speakers to talk about starting and tending a backyard garden. A series of garden workshops last spring plus canning and preserving workshops later last year attracted enough interest that they thought they’d try it again, said ARHA Hamiotabased community dietitian Chantal Morais.
The ARHA ran the workshops as part of a dietitians’ campaign to encourage eating more homegrown vegetables and developing a greater awareness of where food comes from.
“The workshops were really well received last year and there was a lot of enthusiasm,” said Morais, adding that about a dozen are signed up to participate in one scheduled for this week in Boissevain.
Local instructors are well-known gardeners who offer an overview on how to start and tend a vegetable garden.
“We had seasoned gardeners attend and people who’d never gardened before last year,” said Morais. They also had a few newcomers from other countries now living in southwestern Manitoba. “They were interested in learning about all the things that they could grow.”
The ARHA wants to inspire people to grow a little more of their own food and enjoy the multiple health benefits that can be derived from gardening, including more fresh air and exercise, she said.
Health surveys done in the ARHA show about one-third of youth to be either overweight or obese. A small percentage of households also indicate they experience food insecurity from time to time, lacking money to buy food.
David Neufeld, a greenhouse grower at Boissevain taught workshops last year and will lead a garden workshop there on April 21.
There is renewed interest in growing a larger percentage of one’s own food, Neufeld said, adding that among those attending workshops he ran last year included those who had never gardened in their life.
It’s striking that many of a younger generation lack basic gardening skills given that so many older adults retain them, he said.
A big attraction to gardening is the taste of all things homegrown.
“I think that’s one of the first things that gets us to consider growing our own food is when we taste food that others grow in their own gardens,” he said.
“We realize what we’re missing.” Upcoming ARHA workshops will
be held April 21 at Boissevain Health Centre and April 25 at the Virden Health Centre. Both free workshops run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Please preregister by contacting 204-523-3227 or email [email protected] [email protected]