Bow Valley College garden club donates harvest to Calgary Food Bank


Bow Valley College Garden Club Donates Harvest To Calgary Food Bank

We can all agree that 2020 has had its struggles, but it has also led to unexpected pleasures. One of those pleasures is a renewed love and appreciation for our own backyards.

For Joanna Tzavaras, an instructor at the School of Foundational Learning, the idea to form a garden club on MS Teams with her Indigenous learnerscame easilya successful florist and an educator, she wanted to create a sense of community and togetherness while sharing her passion for nature.

I asked my learners, ‘Hey, do you want to start a garden club?’,” she says. “We individually grow gardens at our homes, and now we share our experiences virtually to build emotional well-being, to have fun, and communicate in the sense of togetherness and community.

The clubnamed Okâwîmâwaskiy– Cree for Mother Earth,welcomes both learners and instructors and now has more than 30 active members. It has become a place where members not only share gardening tips and harvest updates but also connect on their shared love of nature.

Okâwîmâwaskiy is a safe space where members encourage each other and connect on a personal level beyond education and outside the classroom.

 “It’s nice when you’re an adult, you can be friends with your teachers,” says club member Jolene Delver.

Jolene reminisces about gardening with her grandma when she was younger. “They had a big garden in their backyard; we would spend hours picking and digging potatoes to deliver to the neighborhood. We picked about 10 five-gallon pails and sharedit with everyone.”

Last month, the club donated a portion of its bounty to the Calgary Food Bank. During the delivery, both Jolene and Joanna expressed how rewarding it felt to donate nourishing food from their gardens to provide a positive impact on the lives of others.

Okâwîmâwaskiywill be kept alive until the next growing season. “I think we’ll go with the flow and build the club organically. But I know our theme this fall is emotional well-being and resilience,” says Joanna.


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