COLUMN: So many ways to grow community

The birds are chirping, the daffodils are set to bloom and applications are beginning to come in for plots in one of our two community gardens. It must be March!

Community gardening is a great way to grow inexpensive, fresh produce for your table; to get outdoors and enjoy the peace, fresh air and exercise; and to meet folks who share your values and interests. There’s always some turnover in the 86 plots we have at Alexandra and Crescent Park community gardens. Please contact me if you’d like more information on our gardens, or would like to receive an application form for one of them. The deadline for applications is March 15.

Community grows as organically as our veggies; and with just as much variety!

One example is our monthly Neighbourhood Fun Night, held on the fourth Wednesday in our dining hall at Camp Alex. This is an opportunity for young families, seniors and others to enjoy a low-cost meal, prepared on-site by our cook and volunteers; entertainment, and activities for the children. Our next Fun Night is Wednesday, March 25, from 5-7 p.m. The cost is just $7, and $3 for kids ages 12 and under (cash at the door). Your admission entitles each individual or family to a door prize – a gift certificate donated by a local business.

Enjoying the creative arts together is a way to build community through the power of our imaginations. Our quarterly Lit Café brings together five featured authors to read from their works, followed by a panel discussion and an open mic.

On Earth Day, April 22, we’ll be celebrating our 20th session with “The Good Earth: Readings Inspired by Nature and the Environment.” We’ll be celebrating this milestone with cake and other refreshments. No cost, and no registration.

Finally, I want to express a word of gratitude to those in our community who volunteer their skills and talents to lead activities for their neighbours. Whether it’s our English Conversation Circle for newcomer Canadians, our knitting group, regular zumba and yoga classes, or the collage workshops happening in March and April, our volunteers are really the ones making community happen through Alex House.

Alex House seeks to be responsive to the needs of those who may feel excluded from community due to such factors as age, (dis)ability, race or ethnicity, or sexual or gender identity.

We are always open to discuss partnering with folks who want to work to make our community and neighbourhoods more inclusive of those who are vulnerable, marginalized or isolated.

Get in touch with me at if you feel you have something to offer, or would like to find out more!

Neil Fernyhough is manager of Alexandra Neighbourhood House’s community programs. For information call 604-535-0015 or go to


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