Charlotte Kozier and Soul McLarty having fun at the Sparwood Community Garden on May 31. (Contributed by Stephanie Kozier)

Common ground found at Sparwood Community Garden

Contributed by Melissa McLarty

“This feels like before the world went to sh**,” one mother freely chatted to another (making fast friends) as their children happily played on the dirt hill between activities at the Sparwood Community Garden on May 31.

There were glitter jars to be created. Hands to be painted and seeds to be planted. Public schoolers, homeschoolers and Unschoolers shared in fun as both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding moms encouraged each other.

Once it was an easier time for mothers, although raising children could never be considered easy work. Once land and food were affordable, accessible things and there was no such thing as mommy wars. Today we have formula shortages, a housing crisis, supply chain disruptions, the list just goes on. But not at the Sparwood Community Garden where for a Monday afternoon on May 31st wise women, mothers and children met up with real life sustainable solutions. It turns out mothers here are a very capable bunch.

“Breastfeeding can be hard. There’s a lot of well meaning but totally wrong ideas out there instead of actual support. My hope this year for the Elk Valley Breastfeeding Mama’s group at the garden is to give all local mothers (new or experienced) a chance to connect and access the best wholistic/time tested information available,” said Dayle Aston who was present at the garden Monday and has recently taken over as Volunteer Breastfeeding Peer Support Facilitator and Advocate for the area.

The past few years have been tricky for mothers with tight restrictions on how, where, why, when, for what, and with who they could meet strangling the longstanding volunteer run community organization. During lockdowns Breastfeeding Mama’s Peer Support Group continued unseen yet was awarded a grant from Columbia Basin Trust making it possible to deliver over a hundred care packages to isolated mothers in the area. “It was amazing to know I wasn’t alone and that just caring for my baby is valued and important,” said a recipient of one of those care packages.

The Sparwood Community Garden Children’s Program (no age limit) and Breastfeeding Mama’s first joint meet up was a success and will continue to run the last Monday of each month at the Garden (440 Englemann Spruce Dr.) from 1-3pm for the duration of this gardening and harvest season. To join in the fun simply come by. Entry is always free. Participation in craft activities for older children is by donation. June 27th, the activity is making fairy houses and harvesting a take home herb salad. Be prepared to get dirty!

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