A Local Garden with Global Impact
To some, it may be just a freshly picked tomato, a pungent sprig of cilantro or snap-fresh green beans. But produce from the University of Alberta’s Green & Gold Community Garden does much more than nourish local Edmontonians—it also helps marginalized women and their families in Rwanda.
Funds raised from the garden—run entirely by community volunteers working with donated plants and seeds—support the Tubahumurize Association. The non-governmental organization provides opportunities for women to acquire skills, become economically self-sufficient, open small-scale businesses and find a community of support. As well as offering a range of vocational training opportunities, Tubahumurize teaches students to grow their own vegetables and prepare a hot meal. Other programs include art, health education and traditional dance. Most of the women are survivors of genocide and gender-based violence, and many are living with HIV/AIDS.
“Our goal is to fight against domestic violence,” says Jeanne Mwiliriza, Tubahumurize founder. “With support from the Green & Gold Community Garden, we have been able to assist these women to escape domestic violence. We have been able to change what is happening in our community.”
The garden, located at South Campus, is a joint initiative between the School of Public Health and the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences. Since opening in 2009, the garden has raised more than $60,000 for Tubahumurize. The funds have allowed the association to expand its trauma counselling services to outlying areas, as well as provide health education and microcredit loan programs.
“I commend your willingness to care. That is how you change the world,” says Mwiliriza.
Text by Donna Richardson. Photos by Michael Holly. Watch an audio slideshow about the Green & Gold Community Garden.