April 2, 2020 News, Sustainability Tips

How we walk through the world today looks a bit different than it normally does this time of year. However, the spring is still a time to enjoy being outside, to celebrate the breaking of winter, and to look forward to new growth and longer days. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, an annual celebration of the Earth and life on this planet. With the coming of many spring celebrations that will take a different form this year, we are re-discovering ways that we can continue to celebrate, appreciate and find joy in the world around us. From taking daily walks through a community garden, to growing plants at home, this season is the perfect time to find comfort in the new life growing outside of and within our homes.

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

– Audrey Hepburn


While many of us are staying home, during this time of physical distancing, it’s important and advised that we continue to get outside every day, for our mental and physical well-being. Getting outside and connecting with plants, natural landscapes, wilderness, and animals all have powerfully positive effects on our health and well-being1.

Have you been to the four community gardens in the UNA neighbourhoods? The three gardens in Hawthorn Place, and one in Wesbrook place provide a place of solace and calm, to anyone who cares to stop by for a visit. With the coming of spring, things are getting busy, as birds are building nests, sprouts are shooting up, and pollinators will soon be seen buzzing amongst blossoms.

When you take your daily walk, consider visiting the gardens. If you aren’t sure where the gardens are, take a look at the map on the Community Garden website.


If you are looking for ways to be outside and find some deeper connection with the natural world, there is still opportunity to do so at the Old Barn Children’s Garden. The garden is a collective-garden, that welcomes all ages and levels of experience. While the structure of volunteering has recently changed, to practice physical distancing, volunteers can still working independently in the garden, or with members of their household. For more information, you can email communitygardens@myuna.ca.


Looking for an activity to do with kids when you’re out for a walk? Try out this scavenger hunt to learn about the natural world and explore the gardens.

Community Garden Scavenger Hunt 


A GARDEN MEDITATION (for all ages!)

Mindfulness meditation, a form of meditation that pays attention to the present moment, is known for its many psychological benefits, including decreased stress and anxiety.2 Mindfullness can be practiced throughout everyday life, and if you are looking to find a moment of calmness, a great place to start is in a garden.

Observing the Five Senses

  • Take a seat or stand in a quiet place
  • Take a deep breath
  • Observe and identify four things that you can see
  • Take a deep breath
  • Observe and identify three things that you can hear
  • Take a deep breath
  • Observe and identify two things that you can smell
  • Take a deep breath
  • Observe and identify one thing that you can taste 
  • Take the biggest breath you’ve taken all day

This meditation can be done alone and in silence, or can be done with others and is a lot of fun to practice with children!


There are countless benefits to physical and psychological well-being and health that come, not only through the physical act of gardening, but also by simply being in the presence of plants3,4. Plants also improve air quality and can mitigate the effects of sick building syndrome (commonly seen in office environments, but can also occur at home). They’ve even been shown to improve productivity in work environments5,6, which may be useful when many of us find ourselves working at home.


There are so many ways that you can grow plant-life at home, all of them requiring little to no experience, and often no more supplies than what you have hanging around your home.

Sprouting at home

  • What you need: Glass jar (an old pasta jar will work!), Sprouting seeds, Fine mesh strainer/cheesecloth
  • Instructions

Starting seedlings

  • What you need: Seeds, Seed-starting mix/soil, Containers for planting (Egg cartons, yogurt containers, milk cartons)
  • Instuctions

Keeping houseplants

  • What you need: Plants! These can be bought at most grocery stores, home stores, and garden shops.
  • Check out these Low Maintenance Houseplants


Whether you’re interested in beautifying your space with some flowers, growing herbs to have on hand, or looking to produce your own crop of veggies this summer, container gardening is a great way to use an outdoor space.

Many garden shops have implemented pick-up programs, which allow you to make and pay for your purchase online, and then pick up your supplies from outside the shop.



As we are spending more time at home, it can be challenging for parents to find activites and fun things to keep their kid’s occupied and engaged. As it’s become important to only leave the house when necessary, this is a great opportunity to get a little creative when it comes to using what we have in our homes. The Seattle Times has come up with 23 Activities to Do with Kids with Stuff You Already Have.


While all gardening can be done with kids, sometimes it’s fun and more rewarding to have their own project. Check out these mini-growing projects that allows kids to explore how plants grow and see their own plant-life progress each day.


1 Frumkin (2001)

2 Keune et al. (2010)

3 Soga et al. (2017)

4 Kaplan (2009)

5 Nieuwenhuis et al. (2014)

6 Raanaas et al. (2011)

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