When Catherine Bourget answered an ad to become an Earthwise Garden Buddy, she had no idea how much of an impact that simple action would have on her life.
“I had heard about the program because a lady down my street had someone coming in to help her with her garden. I thought, what an amazing idea.”
An avid gardener, Bourget says she could sympathize with how overwhelming simple gardening tasks could be for seniors who love to garden but aren’t quite able to tackle everything on their own.
Earthwise Garden Buddies is a gardening together program that reaches out to seniors who live at home and would like to continue gardening for health and enjoyment. Volunteers are paired up with seniors, and together they work on new or existing gardening projects at the senior’s home, bond over a common interest and enjoy each other’s company.
Garden Buddies aims to establish a relationship of trust, knowledge sharing and support as the mentor and the senior collaborate their skills. It can also be an opportunity for real friendships to develop, as was the case for Bourget, whose buddy lives just down the road.
“Not only did we bond over our shared love for gardening and Earthwise,” explains Bourget, “but we have become fast friends. Our friendship has evolved into bringing my children to her garden for tea together with her grandchildren and to attending music events together. I believe she and I will be close friends forever and I thank Earthwise for bringing us together.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an especially difficult time for seniors, many of whom are isolated at home, unable to visit with family and friends. In response, Earthwise adapted the Garden Buddies program to reach out to seniors to provide connection and companionship over the phone.
As restrictions are gradually being eased, there will soon be opportunity for occasional garden visits once again, with proper physical distancing and safety protocols in place.
Earthwise is looking to connect with new Garden Buddy mentors who would like to help support the seniors in the community and make new friends along the way.
Earthwise will train new mentors in the necessary skills through several free workshops. If you have a passion for gardening that you’d like to share with somebody, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Garden Buddies is funded by the United Way of the Lower Mainland.