By Erin Knutson

Special to The Pioneer

Since 2007, the ethically conscious handmade cosmetics company Lush Canada has been generously donating its profits from their charity-giving enterprise Charity Pot. Envisioned by CEO and founder Mark Constantine, the handmade cosmetic program supports grassroots organizations in exciting new ventures.

Locally, the Groundswell Community Greenhouse has been the recipient of a $20,000 donation by Lush towards its modern 12,000 square foot state-of-the-art permaculture garden. Harnessing both permaculture and renewable energy, Groundswell is in year four of construction on its inspired project.

We are creating an outdoor teaching space, an open stage, a gathering place for community outdoor events, said Bill Swan, project leader for the Groundswells Community Greenhouse development. We are pushing toward completion we are at eighty per cent.

Committed to education, Groundswell will be using the space for creating and teaching with a renewable energy awareness kit. Its an action-oriented kit, implementing hands on tools basically learning in a kit, commented Mr. Swan of Groundswells teaching philosophy, and his vision for the impressive garden. Its for all ages and adults of all sizes.

Lushs vision was compatible with the environmental sustainability commitment of Groundswell.

Charity Pot is a hand-and-body lotion created by Lush for the purpose of reaching out to deserving groups. We donate 100 per cent of our profits to 440 charities in 32 countries, said Chelsea Allen, floor leader at Lushs Iron Mills manufacturing location in Calgary.

We work with so many groups and were happy to do it, commented Pearl Gottschalk, retail marketing co-ordinator at Lush.

Groundswells symbiotic partnership with Lush in Calgary, includes conscripting the help of Lush volunteers in the general development of the garden. Volunteers from Lush are part of the integrated partnership that serve as an exemplary model for future collaborations, and serve as an inspiration for other companies wanting to get on board with these types of projects.

Groundswell is branching out internationally with a company like Lush, stated Mr. Swan of the philanthropic and eco-conscious company whose reach extends globally with its charitable projects.

In conjunction, Groundswell is also extending itself to team building projects with other companies.

We are using this project as a staff communication tool, a team building project that will enhance staff cohesiveness, while strengthening internal infrastructure, and providing an invaluable service to the community.

Local businesses have contributed over $15,000 to the project in terms of raw materials and labour including Home Hardware and JB Building, among notable others.

We are looking forward to the completion of the garden, so that we can enjoy it. From 2006 on weve been focused on capital development and construction, so it will be nice just to enjoy the beauty of it, said Mr. Swan on seeing the efforts of their dedication come to fruition.

A place dedicated to environmental safety codes and artistic expression, Mr. Swan is reaching out to local artists to be part of the gardens final construction stage. Whether its working with wooden structures, or clay ovens, it will be nice to see the hand of local artisans in its completion, he said.

The success of the Groundswell Community Gardens and Mr. Swans vision has spurred offers from around the country for consultations on projects using renewable energy strategies. Its a working model that has been recognized by others looking to utilize natural resources and green technologies for food production, he said.