Uniting and healing through community garden

Food prices are soaring. The gas to get the food has soared in cost. The knowledge of how to grow the food, harvest it, and save it has been lost for many. People are starving for good food. Groceries are becoming next to impossible to afford for working class families.

We are coming out of a two-year pandemic that turned our world upside down. But there has been no exit plan. Addiction rates rose, families were torn apart, mental illness has skyrocketed, there has been worldwide political upheaval not seen in almost seven decades and inflation is at its highest level in four decades.

The residual fallout from the pandemic is being felt. The community has witnessed an increase in violent attacks against each other, as told by the Six Nations Police and local family violence prevention agencies.

With all this going on, one Six Nations man is looking to make a small change to bring some peace back into the community.

“I just thought the things that’s going on in the world, it’s time to start looking after ourselves,” said Chad General, who is on a mission to create a three-acre community garden in the coming weeks for the entire community’s benefit.

General is inviting everyone in the community to participate in growing, donating, and caring for the garden and then – enjoying the fruits of their labour for free.

It will be a labour of love and a way to bring people back together, said General. Like many others, he’s tired of the violence he’s seen in the community and he believes planting together and working together can help reunite people and mend old wounds.

“I’m hoping that this helps to get us all back together,” said General.

“It’s all about community. That’s why we have our longhouses. It’s better for our community. I think we need to get our connection back together. We need to get back to each where we have that respect for each other. If you don’t know each other, you don’t give a (darn) about each other.”

The land for the garden has already been donated by his brother. It’s a three-acre plot on Sixth Line Road near Oneida Road.

Local raceway owner and community philanthropist Glenn Styres has already agreed to donate the labour and equipment needed to prepare the soil for planting in the coming weeks.

But General wants more people to get involved. He held a community meeting at the Onondaga Longhouse on Mar. 30 and not many people showed up.

But he’s ready to get started.

General has already acquired some seeds and he envisions the community planting such staples as tomatoes, potatoes, corn, cucumbers and other plants that people can preserve over the winter.

“I’m just going to go ahead and go forward with it. I know it’s needed. Why not involve the whole community?”

The garden will also provide community members with free, fresh summer seasonal produce that is normally very expensive, such as lettuce and peppers.

“It’s free. It’s a community garden. We’re doing it for each other.”

And just the act of working outside in the soil is healing, said General.

“That’s part of our connection back to the earth. It’s helped me. Getting outside and doing it with the family felt good, mentally, getting out there, watching that garden come about from seed to plant. We need to share this because even a lot of our kids aren’t aware how to work the land.”

A lot of community members have already helped with the legwork of getting it started. After this year, General is hoping to expand the garden, hopefully with the use of some band-owned land that could be donated.

Anyone interested in getting involved can contact General via email at generalchad771@yahoo.com.

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