Stony Rapids women’s shelter adds therapy garden
- Kaitlynn Nordal | July 26, 2019
Earth Connections and the Athabasca Health Authority have partnered together for a Stony Rapids Women's Shelter therapy garden, a school project, and a health centre outdoor food planting project.
Frank Tecklenburg of Earth Connections has worked alongside the Athabasca Health Authority for the past 3 years to help the community grow their own food year-round indoors, outdoors, and helped with other outdoor projects.
In June 2018, when Tecklenburg was in Stony Rapids talking about the new shelter with Pam Huerto, Health Promotions Manager for the Athabasca Health Authority and Bev Peel, coordinator for the Women's Shelter, they discussed putting a therapy garden in at the shelter.
In September 2019, Stony Rapids will open a six-room emergency shelter for those in domestic abuse situations. It will be called Sa kew chu sa'kew ko'ni kwa, or "a home for women and children's shelter."
“Horticultural therapy has been in existence for years, however, only in the past few years has its benefits been brought out more to the public,” said Tecklenburg. “Stress relief as well as the ability to grow food in a safe environment seemed a perfect match.”
Tecklenburg contacted Steven Wiig from Holistic Landscape Design and they worked together to design a space at the shelter that would have a walking path, fruit trees, shrubs, and a gazebo with a rocket stove, barrel oven to cook in and benches.
After getting approval, Techlenberg, Huerto, and Peel partnered with local companies, northern hearty (zone 1B ) and the fruit trees, fruit bushes and shrubs were chosen. Then gravel, mulch, cedar raised beds, soil, tools, rocket stoves, barrel ovens and the materials to make cob, were brought up in two semi-trailers through Caribou Transport to Stony Rapids.
“Anything that can work to assist in food security as well as a place to relax is a good thing. There are so many issues not only in the north but with women's shelters, so to give them an opportunity to have a place to feel safe...it’s just a place to get your thoughts back and to interact with the other folks that are at the shelter and for the kids to have a place to go,” said Techlenberg.
Everything was built in the span of a week.
“It’s about empowering people and giving them access to ways to improve their own health. That’s what health promotion is all about, making the community healthier in any way we can. I think gardening has been a positive way to do that,” said Huerto.
Through funding of the Nutrition North Federal Program, a project at the Stony Rapids school was completed at this time. A gazebo, rocket stove cob barrel oven, and outdoor garden space was upgraded. The students learned how to make cob for the base of the rocket stove. Once it was completed, the rocket stove, barrel oven was used to make pizza during a pizza party.
Through the Nutrition North Federal Program, fruit trees and bushes were planted in front of the school. There was also fruit trees, hostas, shrubs, and bushes, put in the garden area in front of the health Centre.