Meet Imelda, our A Rocha Community Garden Network Student Volunteer: Imelda is a Masters student at Adler University (formerly known as the Adler School of Professional Psychology) in Vancouver. A gardening enthusiast from Toronto, Imelda has experience with CSAs, permaculture, and urban gardening in southern Ontario. As she helps out with the A Rocha Community Garden Network in Vancouver, she hopes to gain practical skills for connecting with communities and to learn more about the therapeutic nature of gardening.

Learn more about Imelda: 

“I first heard about A Rocha when helping to start a community garden in Toronto, Ontario. That summer I consulted A Rocha’s community garden resources for churches and subscribed to Queenie’s Community Garden Network emails.
IMG_20140512_175553-225x300By the end of the year I was in Bradford, a historically industrial city in Northern England, and happened to visit the Bradford Cathedral on the morning that Peter Harris was a guest speaker. I decided that if I were ever to end up on the West Coast I would have to work or volunteer with A Rocha. Two years later I am in Vancouver for school. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to help Queenie to connect communities to gardens!

Technically I am training to be a psychotherapist at Adler University (formerly the Adler School of Professional Psychology), but idealistically I like to think I am a becoming a gardener, that is, someone that encourages the earth, or minds, to return to its natural, resource-rich state so that it can be healthy and productive.

My recent adventures into organic farming and permaculture have taught me much about the necessity of ecological and community connection for land health as well as people health. Similarly, Alfred Adler, after whom the school I attend is named, seems to have understood the essential nature of community to psychological well-being long before other psychotherapists of his time were ready to consider any influences outside the individual psyche.
Alfred-AdlerAdler goes as far as to define well-being as the extent to which a person is embedded in their community and acts in the interests of others, as opposed to self-interest. Occasionally I wonder if Adler learned about this interdependence from the garden.

As part of the Adlerian mission to train socially-responsible practitioners, I will be completing my community service practicum with some of the communities that are part of A Rocha’s Community Garden Network. So far my projects include connecting members of a meal program to a kitchen garden and helping to start up a new rooftop garden for a seniors’ housing complex. I hope to learn more about urban agriculture, how to engage real people with different skills and interests, and to witness the therapeutic benefits of gardening. I’m looking forward to all of it!”