Mayor Ken Johnston spoke to participants at the CommUnity Power of One event on March 19, 2022, at Red Deer Polytechnic. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston: April is the season of renewal

Hello, once again Red Deerians and thank you for taking the time to read my monthly updates. Thank you to the Red Deer Advocate for providing this outlet for City Council and I to continue to be transparent and open with you, our treasured citizens.

The month of April is significant across our community and across our country as a season of renewal. As many of us celebrate significant events, holy days, festivals and feasts like Passover, Vaisakhi, Easter, Good Friday, Ridván, Pesach, Yom HaShoah, Ram Navami, and Ramadan, it signals an encouraging lift – a fresh start if you will. I encourage all Red Deerians to grasp the opportunity this month brings to find a sense of renewal. To take this opportunity to reach out to your neighbours, family and friends and encourage where you can and lift where you can because these festivals and holy days remind us that together we build our world, and together we lift up our world at a time when we need it the most.

This time of year also reminds me that it is time to get started on my gardening! The Year of the Garden officially starts the first day of spring, and all Canadians – whether you already enjoy gardening, recently discovered the pleasure of spending time in a garden because of the pandemic or want to learn more about how gardens impact so much of life – are invited to take part. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, celebrate our country’s rich garden heritage, and help grow important legacies for a sustainable future.

No matter where you live, in a house, condo or apartment, your gardens contribute to the enjoyment of life. From container kitchen gardens on a balcony, a landscaped backyard, colourful flower beds, to a community vegetable garden providing food to the neighbourhood, all need a little effort on your part to nurture their success.

Supported by the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, The Canadian Garden Council, through its Year of the Garden 2022 initiative aims to inspire and inform Canadians about the many health and well-being, economic, and environmental benefits gardens and gardening provide, and along the way provide tips and tricks for gardening success and the enjoyment of gardens.

In Red Deer, we have many events and opportunities to get involved and help celebrate the Year of the Garden. In April alone, we will see events at Parkland Garden Centre to help encourage kids’ interest in gardening, we have the kick-off of Green Deer and The City’s garden plot program opens for registrations.

I know for me personally; April and May signal the start of gardening season at my home. I begin to plan, plant, and organize my garden and flower beds. Even if Alberta springtime brings us snow (as it almost certainly does), there is so much we can still do. Gardening really does bring me joy, and for many, can improve aspects of mental health, focus, and concentration.

Not surprisingly, time in your garden can be a great way to release stress. There’s something about feeling the life all around you, the warmth of the sun, the soil in your hands that is an instant mood booster.

Gardening has been around for as long as humans have been growing food. Through the centuries, gardens have served not only as places to grow plants but as spaces for people to relax, to focus, and to connect with nature and each other. Today, gardening can provide many mental health benefits for your daily life.

Gardening can make you feel more peaceful and content, and it can also bring communities together. If you don’t have an area in your home to grow a garden or plants, I encourage you to look into our Garden Plot program, or our Neighbourhood Community Gardens. Gardening with others at a community garden or other group setting takes teamwork. Being part of a larger group can benefit your mental health by increasing your social connections and your support system.

I’ve experienced that quick connection myself when meeting other gardeners, and there’s so much to talk about—not only the nuts and bolts of gardening but the emotional and spiritual connections we can experience with our gardens.

Ready to get started, but not sure where? Be sure to check out all the resources we have on our website at www.reddeer.ca/yearofthegarden. The Year of the Garden offers many opportunities to “Live the Garden Life” and get involved, enjoy garden experiences, and get inspired in the garden.

Hope to see you out there!

Ken Johnston is the mayor of Red Deer.