Gilbert Gallaher, or as his friends call him Gil, may be a new volunteer to TBG, but he has been well acquainted with plants for a while now. Raised in the remote area of Australia, he is no stranger to bush medicine, land care, and growing one’s own vegetables as a form of survival. With roots in nursing, yoga, and horticulture, it became more evident to Gil that plants and health work in partnership together.
After a long career in healthcare, he moved across seas from Australia to Toronto. Not long after relocating, did he discover our urban green space, that made him feel at home.
Gil’s first experience at TBG left a lasting impression. Despite the cold chill in the air and snow-covered beds, our Head of Volunteer Services warmly welcomed him during the wintertime. In the absence of flowers, Gil turned his attention to the excellence of the main building and the living green roof. However, it was the sense of camaraderie among the people that encouraged Gil to volunteer.
What started as a weekly volunteering shift during the pandemic, grew into a partnership with the organization. He relishes in the benefits of being surrounded by green space. It counteracts the effects of stress, anger, anxiety, and isolation — an experience that only inspires happiness and self-confidence. “Now, I could not imagine my life without a weekly four-hour dose of TBG! he says. “The directors, staff and volunteers are sensational — working together for a common good.”
A Community of Plant People
TBG is home to many plant societies, full of members who support each other. “Once you find one plant person, you find them all,” says Gil. We are a connected community, working towards one goal, especially here at TBG.” Now he is a proud Toronto Master Gardener in training and a part of the Toronto Nature Stewards.
When Gil joined the Toronto Master Gardeners, he joined a group that is pivotal to the TBG community. Always willing to lend a hand, they help to carry out many of our activities, propagating knowledge, and planting seeds of advice along the way. We are stronger in partnership. Our organizations work together to build sustainable communities and foster lifelong engagement with learning and nature. “Being a part of these groups play an important role in community education,” he says. Gardening “connects the soul to the soil,” nurturing a symbiotic relationship between humans and plants. Gil believes that TBG and the Toronto Master Gardeners are essential to cultivating knowledge and an appreciation for the natural environment.
Gil reminds us to rejoice in the progress we have made as plant people. “Change starts by chipping away little by little,” he says. Together, we can strive for growth and connect all people to the outdoors.