Young girl in community garden holding up beets

Food security

Building healthier communities

Dec 18, 2019

Digging up teachable moments in the garden.

Youth in the Peel region had the chance to become citizen scientists last summer, thanks to an innovative program offered by Ecosource Mississauga.

Called #PlugInToGrow, it was supported by a $20,000 grant from the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation. This funding allowed participants, ages 14 to 25, to be part of the Young Urban Growers group.

75 youth participated in the program, which began in January of 2019 and ran the full calendar year, wrapping up in December.

The program connected young people with green spaces in urban environments. Along with learning gardening techniques, the participants learned about sustainable and biologically diverse communities and native plants and habitats for insects and animals in the city.

Not all of the work was being done in the 15,000 square foot teaching garden in the heart of Mississauga. In fact, a large portion of the project involved taking what the participants had learned on the ground and sharing it with others.

Ecosource Urban Agriculture Coordinator Rav Singh said that they are able to share this knowledge through a series of 12 environmental and urban-agriculture focused podcast episodes.

"They were helping to bring awareness to the edible plants (winter greens, low bush blueberry plants and plum trees) that we have available in the Peel Region," he explains.

The beauty of the garden and its harvest were then brought to life through the stories shared by the aspiring journalists. The podcast covered a wide range of topics, from making vegan sushi to the impacts of single-use plastics on the environment.

“We got to come up with the themes and help with the editing and logo design,” 15-year-old podcast co-host Britney Vu explained. “By creating this episode we were able to show youth how a couple of simple changes can really make a difference.”

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