Village News

Landscaping and Gardening for World Peace

  • Gary Dyck, Author
  • Former Executive Director, MHV
Dirk Willems Peace Garden
The Dirk Willems Peace Garden at Mennonite Heritage Village.

At Mennonite Heritage Village’s (MHV) Dirk Willems Peace Garden we have a sculpture that tells an amazing story of how an early Anabaptist loved his enemy. There are also panels at the nearby pergola that outline some other ways Mennonites have struggled with living a life of peace in the last centuries.

Surrounding all of this is a garden that can be described as the next generation of prairie landscaping. This ‘prairie lawn’ is inspired by Dutch designer Piet Oudolf. “Working primarily with perennials, Oudolf practices a naturalistic approach to gardening… He explains: ‘A garden is exciting for me when it looks good through out the year, not just at one particular time. I want to go outside and for it to be interesting in seasons, in early spring and late autumn’ (Wikipedia).” Our Willems peace garden comes to life in spring and shows off variegated colours and forms throughout the months until winter. It will make you want to come back just to see how much it can change in a month. This ‘prairie lawn’ needs very little watering and weeding, which is also good for our environment and for busy gardeners. Compared to simplistic grass lawns it provides more nutrients for pollinators and the soil while reducing carbon from the air.

Skyview Landscaping has done a terrific job of teaching us about doing landscaping in a way that is sustainable, and not reliant on heavy chemicals or watering. Also, the fieldstone boulders that are mixed throughout the garden were generously donated by Diamond Construction and don’t need any watering or weeding either. Sustainable landscaping is so needed in a world that is dealing with worsening climate change.

Today, soil is depleted of minerals and does not contain nature’s perfect mix as it did years ago. The lack of minerals in our soil plays an important role in the health and life of plants, animals, and humans. Essential nutrients are lower in fruits and vegetables when the soil is not replenished. Soil that is not drought-resistant and inadequate food supplies even have an impact on our world as they are seen to increase war and migration.

At MHV our community garden plots get rented out quickly each spring (FYI we still have a couple plots available). It is wonderful how much a garden can save a low-income household on their food budget while providing nutritious food and a hobby that promotes physical and mental wellbeing.

Recently, MHV’s Village Books & Gifts obtained the rights to sell an excellent soil amendment to any garden or fruit trees. IRON EARTH is a natural soil conditioner that re-mineralizes soil, replacing lost minerals, resulting in healthier and more nutritious plants. With the use of IRON EARTH, minerals are passed through the soil to the plant to the consumer, helping to fight common mineral deficiencies and promote good health. It is 100% natural and contains no artificial chemicals. I have been using it for five years and it is the difference maker in my gardens. A difference my family can see and taste.