Wednesday, August 7, 2013


If one thing can bring people together and break ice, that's food. Well, there are two things that can do that. Given that my supervisor almost always mentions the weather in every meeting, I can't believe I forgot that. Okay, there could many more things. Clearly, my digressions here indicate my state of mind. Getting back, Santropol Roulant is an 'NGO-type' organisation that uses food as a means to bring people together. Food security, urban heat island effect, rooftop gardening, hydroponics, meals-on-wheels, inter-generational gardening - all of these fall within their ambit.
Having casually started weeding at Jane's garden, I found myself at SR one evening with Jane. My experiments in Jane's patch were more a way of spending time with Hans (he's 95!) and hearing stories of Hitler. But, volunteering at SR brought with it a whole host of information. I learnt how hydroponics can effectively be used to garden any concrete building covering the grey with green. I saw firsthand and was astonished at how McGill grows peppers, basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, and cilantro - a wide variety of veggies given how much, rather how little, space is used to grow them! Spending time in Lise's garden at Beaudry, I very briefly witnessed how lonely aging in North America can be. But, the true joyous moments were the ones of human interaction. Lise didn't understand English very much and my French is non-existent and yet at some level, we connected. Hans finds that I speak too fast yet managed to retain my interest with his articulate conversations. Jane is soft-spoken and earnest yet we forged a friendly bond. Charlotte who coordinated gardening at McGill was fantastic to work with and treated us to fresh zucchini, cucumber and basil! Each person has a warm demeanor that has left me wanting more, for it's not just their well tended gardens that bring joy!
So, thank you - Santropol Roulant - for introducing me to some wonderful souls and the vegetables, of course.

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