Tackling Food Insecurity One Garden at a Time
August 10, 2015
On Sunday, May 31, 2015 a group of eager rain-soaked volunteers gathered together with community members of the Cordova Park neighbourhood in Oshawa, Ontario to build a neighbourhood garden. This is the second neighbourhood garden that community group, We Grow Food has helped install with neighbours in as many years. We Grow Food is a grassroots organization that promotes the importance of growing our own food and reconnecting community members to each other and their natural food source. Since it’s conception in 2013, the group has witnessed the installation of 26 family plot gardens, 3 shared gardens (private land donated for the growing of community food) & 3 neighbourhood gardens. Neighbourhood gardens are open plots of land with unrestricted access that hosts an amazing array of fresh fruits and veggies for the whole community to enjoy growing, harvesting and eating! Neighbours have 24/7 access to the garden, which is located on property that’s accessible. We Grow Food has helped community members transform over 11, 579 square feet of empty space into a place where 20,273 lbs of food has grown! They have seen over 150 families fed and impacted.
We Grow Food supports neighbours who are interested in increased access to healthy foods by providing them with all the support they need to create and sustain a thriving neighbourhood garden. All the support, which means everything from finding a suitable plot of land, to growing the seedlings, to finding “extra hands” to dig, to planting the seeds and tender shoots, to educating about harvesting practices, to providing a space where excess produce can be traded with neighbours. They create opportunities to build community through education, growing, consuming, sharing and trading the harvest. The movement is one that’s required the cooperation and collaboration of diverse community stakeholders. The City of Oshawa’s provided free municipal land for the garden projects, local businesses have donated funds and resources, local institutions such as schools assisted with the initiative. The group has discovered that not only have they begun to address the issues of food insecurity in their community, but they’ve also been able to witness lines being blurred between community members of varying backgrounds. Community perception has begun to shift about the capacity and ability of neighbourhoods who have long been identified by their deficiencies and not their strengths.
Bernadette Arthur a Community Advancement Coach and affiliate of Communities First Association (CFA) has walked alongside the We Grow Food team to build awareness of asset based community development principles, strategies and approaches. Communities First Association is a national, faith-based organization of highly relational, expert practitioners who are committed to community transformation through the multiplication of skillful leaders in asset based community development. Their Community Advancement Coaches are a diverse group of professionals who are committed to a coach-trainer model that infuses high standards of coaching, training, and facilitation of relevant, rigorous, and diverse curricular experiences that equip the next band of leaders to come alongside communities. To learn more about CFA visit their website www.cfapartners.org. Join CFA’s online learning community to become connected to coaches and practitioners committed to the teaching and practice of asset based community development via www.cfaolc.ning.com.