"As the Executive Director of a Community Health Clinic I want to support our staff and our community to promote health in many different ways but especially in response to climate change, to improve our local environment, to honor the indigenous people of this land and to demonstrate to people and businesses what can be done to further naturalize a typical commercial lot.
In 2021, as part of our recovery from COVID-19, we obtained a federal grant that allowed us to plant a Wellness Garden. The garden included herbs and vegetables and allowed us to work with our commercial landscaping maintenance firm to clear the ground, trim trees and remove sod to reduce the grass cover. After a successful growing season that began to engage staff and local volunteers in tending the garden, we shared food with the local Food Bank and with staff. In 2022, we expanded the garden to include flowers and native plants like sunflowers and we sited 4 hives of honey bees through a rental scheme with Nith Valley Apiaries. Even with the drier weather we have donated 65lbs of potatoes to the food bank at Woolwich Community Services, for example!
Local people began to notice more of our efforts and a group of enthusiasts who are trying to establish a David Suzuki Foundation Butterflyway approached us to propose creating a native garden. We are very keen to do this and have begun discussions with our landscapers to uproot more of the turf and make way for a large bed. We have also been working with local grassroots group Woolwich Healthy Communities for many years to establish trails and tree planting locally to improve the environment, so we hope to get some great advice to pick suitable trees, shrubs, and plants that will work for our area.
As healthcare providers, we know that exposure to nature is a wonderful healing superpower! Forest bathing has been known in Japanese culture, for example, for many years to be beneficial to balance and harmony in life and our modern science is showing how blood pressure rates drop and mental health increase dramatically as result of walking in nature.
As with many things too, variety is the spice of life! Diversifying the ecology means when severe weather strikes or diseases there is more resilience. Trees and native plants can significantly affect run off reducing the danger of flooding and the need for chemical weed suppression saving both time and money.
We know by greening our property our staff will benefit from beautiful spaces to rest and recuperate from their demanding work life. With more nature close to the building we are reminded of the changing of the seasons and the natural rhythms of life. When caregivers are peaceful their care is more effective and burnout is reduced."