When There is Housing Anxiety, Where is Home?

Written by Pendra Wilson

Home is where I was today at Farmers on 57th. I was digging holes alone with a pickaxe and shovel. I have to admit I might also have been feeling sorry for myself.

Farmers on 57th has been located on George Pearson land, which is a residence for the severely disabled. We’ve been there for 10 years. One of the farm’s mandates is to integrate with the residents.  

I’m not one of the 4 female founders. I was someone that joined one of the programs wanting to learn how to garden and provide more food security. My dog was with me for this journey.  George Pearson had 10 hectares of rolling landscape. The farm was located at the other end from where the residents live. Maybe I should mention the farm grows both vegetables and flowers. In late July, when the flowers are in bloom the garden, in my humble opinion, the farm, has a wild beauty unsurpassed to any other worldly magnificence.

Sometimes the residents would come to investigate and drive their wheelchairs along our garden’s goat’s tracks. Despite our best intentions most of us have unexamined societal barriers to the severely disabled. Some of the residents can’t verbalize. However not being able to speak was not an obstacle to make friendships for my dog. He likes kind people, whatever their stripes. It made me stop to reflect and then I followed the path of my dog. 

This year the developers have taken most of the beautiful hectares and this spring we’ve moved our farm to a location juxtaposed tightly to the residents. I wrote a Small Neighbourhood grant and it was successful. We decided that on June 28th we are having an Earth Art Event as a way to integrate the different communities (Farm Folks and Residents) at George Pearson. We are also inviting people from the wider neighborhood to build a living sanctuary; a horticultural cadenza.

Artist: Bonnie Gale

While digging out the sod for the cadenza, residents in their wheelchairs came up to ask me what I was doing? It was a welcome relief from my solitary ‘Herculean labour.’  I explained how we are all going to make Earth Art. Earth Art started in the 1960’s. It blurs the boundaries of architecture, art, and landscape. As an example, we can think of glorious works of Andy Goldsworthy or Bonnie Gale.  Earth Art is less about using materials like aspirational marble and more about using the materials found near our feet.  It’s similar to the philosophy of the 100-mile diet but in construction. On June 28th we will follow Marcel Kalberer’s model, a German architect who replaces conventional building material with live organic vegetations.

Artist: Andy Goldsworthy

Eco-Artist and author Sharon Kallis will facilitate this installation. She not only will be our community mentor to this skill-sharing art project but she’s also an expert in community engagement. This project will gift our communities with not only a sculpture but something much more needed. This art we will weave will be a green recharging refuge.

In times of housing insecurity and I don’t know my address next month, I can answer the question of where is home? It’s in this earth I dig, the plants I plant and desire to make friendships like my dog with kind people.

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