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Planting the Original Species: Youth Get Messy

Gardening at MR

Getting down and Dirty: Manor Road “Messy Church” Youth

As with the First Peoples who inhabit this vast land, native plant species are the originals. This was the theme at the Faith & the Common Good (FCG) and Ontario 150 native garden plaque presentation, “First Peoples, First Plants,” held on September 29, 2017 at Manor Road United Church in Toronto.

“First Peoples had great knowledge concerning the importance of native species and their role as good stewards of the land in supporting pollinator populations long before the settlers arrived,” said Donna Lang, Toronto Coordinator for FCG.

Describing the benefits of native species, “Firstly, they are drought resistant, which is becoming increasingly important, as the climate becomes warmer,” Donna said.  “Native plants encourage pollination by bees and butterflies, and are responsible for 70% of the fruits and vegetables that we eat. They also provide habitat for birds, insects and wildlife.”

Donna presented the plaque to the “Messy Church” youth of Manor Road United, who planted the garden, which is dedicated to the original caretakers of this land.

Debra Schneider, the reverend at Manor Road United, explained the church’s enthusiasm about the garden: “We had just redeveloped our building, and were considering how we might landscape the area,” she said. “The idea of a native garden on our property appeals strongly to our appreciation of and commitment to the natural world. The interfaith aspect of the grant reflect both our desire to connect with our broader community, and our commitment to interfaith and intercultural harmony and respect.”

Manor Road Garden Celebration, Sept 29, 2017

With Rev. Debra Schneider and the Rev. Doctor Rob Oliphant

Allison Marcaccini, Manor Road United Child and Youth Ministry Coordinator did a stellar job in recruiting youth to plant the garden. Over 50 youth and adults planted 150 plants.

The video of the June 2, 2017 garden planting best illustrates the enthusiasm of the group.

Rev. Doctor Rob Oliphant, Member of Parliament for Don Valley West, also attended the plaque presentation and gratefully acknowledged the contribution of indigenous people, their traditional knowledge and care of the land.

“Faith and the Common Good and Manor Road United with the support of Ontario 150, have provided innovative leadership and a fine example for the way the 150th Anniversary of the Canadian Confederation should be celebrated. By honouring Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and at the same time the care of creation, both younger and older residents in the Manor Road Community will be inspired to honour the first inhabitants of this land and to work to for a cleaner, healthier environment. This bodes well for the next 150 years of this great country,” said Rob Oliphant.

This blog is part of a series of posts for the Ontario 150 Youth Garden “Growing Community” projects that are part of Ontario150 Partnership Program which provides youth with opportunities to actively participate in their communities in ways that reflect their creativity, cultural expression, diversity, inclusion, environmental stewardship, entrepreneurship, healthy living, and civic engagement.

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