Faethorne Place Housing Co-op has taken the greening of its co-op to another level.
This Sarnia, Ontario, co-op already had a large community garden with 16 plots. What it needed next to become a green leader was a greenhouse.
Now it has one, thanks to a $4,000 Greener Co-op Microgrant from CHF Canada and support from local Habitat for Humanity volunteers.
Faethorne manager David Waters says that the garden project began with the concept of a community place where members could grow healthy, affordable food and get to know one another in the process.
The co-op provides the plants and material for the community garden. Once the harvest is done, the rule of the garden is that members are invited to take what they need for the day. A garden board alerts members to what is ready and when produce is expected.
Waters describes the Faethorne garden with its greenhouse as being “good for the environment and good for our members – a community builder.” It brings members of all ages out of their homes to interact in the garden, in communion with nature and neighbours.
The idea of a greenhouse was both to increase the plants’ speed of growth and to reduce the cost of planting by generating plants from seed. Once the CHF Canada grant was secured, the co-op called in Habitat for Humanity, which built the greenhouse with wood and corrugated plastic for maximum light and sun. Future plans for the greenhouse include hooking up a rain barrel and adding solar panels. The goal is to produce vegetables even during the coldest months of the year.
Canada`s housing co-ops have demonstrated a longstanding commitment to environmental sustainability. One motivation for this is the 7th international co-op principal: concern for community. CHF Canada members have passed several AGM resolutions supporting promotion, education and resources devoted to green-housing principles and practices.
CHF Canada’s Greener Co-op Microgrant helps co-ops across the country implement projects that will make their communities more environmentally friendly. The grant supports small projects with anywhere from $500 to $4,000 to reduce greenhouse gases, improve air quality, help co‑ops adapt to climate change or inspire others with best practices.
Microgrant program administrator Julie LaPalme says that the grant gets co-ops thinking about what kinds of projects they might implement to make their spaces more sustainable.
Several other co-op housing organizations contribute towards CHF Canada’s Greener Co-op Microgrants: the Agency for Co-operative Housing, CHF BC and Housing Services Corporation.