Working in a garden is a wonderful way to connect with nature. It is also said to have therapeutic benefits, encouraging mindfulness and relaxation. Beyond this, it can also help develop meaningful life skills.
Recognizing the valuable opportunities it could provide, we built a rooftop garden in 2008. Through the years, it has been an important source of hands-on learning and recreation for the young people at Covenant House.
Every Spring, our staff work with young people from our Rights of Passage and Cooking for Life programs to plant a variety of fresh, seasonal produce. Herbs, peppers, onions, tomatoes and beets are just some of the many plants grown. The youth learn how to prepare garden beds, plant, weed, water, and finally, harvest.
Beyond teaching gardening skills, the rooftop garden also provides young people the opportunity to learn about cooking, nutrition and eating local. Once the crops are harvested, they are used in-house for young people to enjoy. With guidance from our chef instructor, Cooking for Life program participants use the produce to prepare nutritious meals. They even learn techniques such as food preservation and pickling.
“When our youth leave the program, they are able to utilize all those skills and grow their own food,” said youth worker Zahra Parvinian. “They will save money, eat more nutritious food, manage waste, and help the environment!”
Whether they most enjoy the experience of getting their hands dirty or watching the fruits or their labour become delicious meals, every young person takes away something unique from the experience.
The rooftop garden is an important part of our programming, but it also acts as a safe and relaxing outdoor space. You might find young people visiting it to participate in some outdoor yoga, meditate or simply enjoy the view.
Learn more about our comprehensive, youth-driven programming!