St. James Town Balcony Gardening Workshops are online sessions that teach community residents how to grow and harvest plants and food from their backyard or balcony. As the majority of St. James Town residents live in high-rise apartments, these classes have been particularly useful. Making the most of the outside space through gardening can not only contribute to a sustainable and green way of life, but getting closer to nature has proven benefits for mental wellbeing. The program focuses on the where, when and how of balcony gardening – for example, where to get materials, when to plant different seeds, or how to look after plants. It also lets residents ask gardening experts their questions, so it is beneficial for both new and veteran gardeners.
These classes started in person in March and were hosted at the St. James Town 240 Hub. There were two high-turnout sessions which received a very positive response from the community. Residents were interested in continuing this program after the quarantine began. To accommodate this interest, the balcony gardening sessions went online using Zoom as its platform. Interested residents were instructed on how to use Zoom so they could attend these classes. The first session of this workshop included three classes hosted on May 1st, 8th and 15th. Just like the in-person classes, turnout was high with 24 residents in attendance.
Lara, the program instructor, is very pleased with how the sessions are going. Lara started hosting balcony gardening workshops in other communities in February and March of this year. As word of these workshops got out, there was a huge demand for them in the St. James Town Community. After the quarantine began, Lara worked with The Corner to get the classes online.
Lara’s gardening experience actually began in St. James Town and she has been gardening for 15 years. She enjoys teaching this program because it allows her to pursue one of her passions while also passing on her gardening knowledge to others. She admits that initially, the transition to online classes was somewhat of a learning curve, but she has gotten the hang of it recently and is able to use online features like sharing photos and documents.