Sometimes, the best way to get active is to get your hands dirty – literally, if you’re Lone Sorenson.
Sorenson is the founder of Northern Roots, a Yellowknife-based organization dedicated to agriculture consulting, market gardening and teaching.
On Monday, Sorenson shared her love of gardening in an event called Food is Medicine: Gardening with Elders, hosted at the Northern Roots garden on 57 Street in Yellowknife.
“This is a market garden, a teaching garden and a healing garden,” Sorenson said.
For the event, Sorenson invited elder members of the community to join her in her garden for a walking tour and a spell harvesting vegetables.
Shortly after, participants were invited to enjoy the fruits of their labour, made possible thanks to Sorenson’s organic farming practice.
Attendees tried samples of mint leaves and arugula before gathering in the shade to talk about gardening tips. They replenished their energy with homemade iced tea and freshly picked radishes.
The event was made possible thanks to a grant from the NWT Recreation and Parks Association’s Get Active program, which funds free community events that encourage people to become physically active.
“It’s a unique event,” said Sheena Tremblay, executive director of the association. “People often think of recreation just as sport, but we really try to take a broad approach.
“There are lots of great benefits and physical activity involved with gardening, especially for older adults, and that was one of the reasons we thought it was a good fit for the program.”
With the $500 grant, Sorenson said she was able to build an event well-suited to senior members of the community.
“It allowed me to plan it properly, to get some things ready. I want the oldest to have a really good time,” she said.
She bought a tent, sourced some chairs and provided refreshments to ensure the elder participants were able to stay safe, comfortable and hydrated while working in the sun.
Both the event and the Get Active grant program come during Recreation and Parks Month, which recognizes the importance of recreation and parks for physical, social, and environmental benefits.
Sorenson said she hopes participants leave with not only a sense of pride in the work they put into the garden, but also a renewed appreciation for the land and what it provides.
“I want people to come here and to really connect with where their food is coming from. I think we’ve become too comfortable with convenience and the idea that food comes from the grocery store. Food comes from the land,” she said, “and food is such a special thing.”
Participants were in awe of the garden, calling it a “paradise.”
“It looks so much nicer than a lawn,” one participant said.
“And more useful,” Sorenson agreed.
The Northern Roots garden is located on the front lawn of 5030 57 Street. When she isn’t running events, Sorenson helps schools and other community groups set up community gardens and learn how to feed themselves growing produce. To learn more, visit her Facebook page.