GNH: Herb Garden Program Enhancement

Project Summary

Purpose

This project focus is helping increase in community engagement with the network of GNH Herb Gardens

Areas of Focus

  • Community food security
  • Urban agriculture
  • Garden management best practices

Skills

  • Urban food production, special focus on perennial herbs
  • Community engagement and animation through PLANTS!

Location

Special Considerations

  • Students must be comfortable working outdoors in all weather conditions and capable of moderate physical activity.
  • A cleared Criminal Record Check (CRC) will be required for working with vulnerable adults and children (this is a specific CRC)

Background Information

Gordon Neighbourhood House has 4 urban farm sites and 10 community herb gardens in the West End! They are on spaces that have been repurposed to grow food, so the farms are in raised beds, generally hidden in pockets around apartment buildings. All of the space is gardened collectively, meaning we do not give out plots per person, rather we garden together and share the produce. The produce from the farms largely goes back into programming at Gordon Neighbourhood House (Community Lunches, the Community Food Hub etc.). The community herb gardens are open access to the public.

The GNH gardens/urban farms and associated initiatives support our Food Philosophy, and our work as a Good Food Organization. http://cfccanada.ca/good-food-organizations

Organization Information

Name

Gordon Neighbourhood House

Vision + Mission

Vision: As a place-based community organization, we work alongside our community, sister organizations, local businesses and policy-makers to animate and support dynamic programs, services and initiatives that respond to the needs and dreams of the community.

Mission: Gordon Neighbourhood House strives to ensure that the West End of Vancouver is a vibrant and active community, where everyone is empowered to play an active role in civil society.

Principles + Goals

  • Gordon Neighbourhood House offers a wide variety of programs (many of which are related to food).
  • Our Food Philosophy is detailed on our website: http://gordonhouse.org/about-gordon-neighbourhood-house/right-to-food/
  • Gordon Neighbourhood House uses food to nourish our community in a variety of ways, including the facilitation of intercultural exchange and dialogue, community capacity-building, and community development.

Principles:

  • An understanding that food brings us together and can act as vehicle for community-building.
  • A recognition that all members of our community have a Right to Food based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, while also acknowledging that we as a community enjoy various levels of access to food.
  • A commitment to sharing fresh, non-expired, healthy, and locally-sourced food whenever possible.
  • A commitment to sharing food that is nutrient-dense, low in refined sugar and sodium, and not overly-processed.
  • A commitment to working toward increased access to food for those who are nutritionally vulnerable.
  • A commitment to providing opportunities for increased food literacy and community capacity-building for our neighbours.
  • A commitment to sharing foods that reflect the diversity of our community, city, country and world.
  • An awareness of the impact that our food choices have on the environment.
  • A commitment to the reduction of our organizational ecological footprint by minimizing packaging and ongoing composting.
  • Support for the development of urban farms and healthy food cooperatives.

Primary Contact

  • Contact Person(s): Joey Liu
  • Email: joey@gordonhouse.org
  • Address: 1019 Broughton Street
  • Phone: 604 683 2554
  • Website: www.gordonhouse.org
  • Best time(s) method(s) to contact: : Email, or phone GNH Front Desk between 10-4pm

Project Description

Gordon Neighbourhood House has 4 urban farm sites and 10 community herb gardens in the West End! The community herb garden boxes are located on various visible spaces including a public park, elementary school, outside apartment buildings and adjacent to sidewalks. The herbs are common cooking herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, chives, sage, and tarragon, and they are open for the public to harvest. The Farmer oversees the Community Herb Garden program and assigns boxes to volunteers who take care of each box independently.

  • Students will begin by collecting metrics and stories from the neighbourhood, to find out how the herb boxes are currently being used, and whether community members are aware that they are accessible sources of food. Based on this data, students will collaborate with the Farmer to raise the profile and excitement of the Herb Box program, and to explore how the herb boxes can be creatively and effectively used to engage the community through food. Examples can include painting the boxes, improving signage, making a dried herb display etc.

Goal and Project Scope

We are interested in learning how the community is currently interacting with the herb boxes, and whether they know that they can access and harvest the herbs grown. The information the students collect will help inform future Community Herb Box programming, and the profile raising will help increase the visibility and effectiveness of the boxes. The students will also spark conversations and education around how to create a welcoming space where people can learn how to harvest food respectfully.

Skills Preferred

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Basic knowledge or interest in growing food & plants
  • Experience or sensitivity to working with vulnerable populations
  • Creative minds encouraged!

Preferred Days of Week and Hours

  • To be determined with Farmer

Project/Partner Orientation

  • Orientation will be with the whole student group. the Farmer will take the group to some of the herb boxes, and provide students with an Herb Map.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

  • Students can dive into learning about our Food Programs and Philosophy by volunteering for the West End Food Festival, organized by Gordon House between September 21-26th.
  • They can also experience our other Food programs first-hand by participating in our Community Lunches (Mon-Thurs 10-1:30pm), our bike-powered affordable mobile market called Gordon Greens (Thursdays 9:30-12:30), or the Produce Market at the Community Food Hub (Fridays 9-12pm).
  • They can also come farming at our 4 urban farm sites, to get a bit of experience with growing food and herbs.

Expected Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

I hope students will learn about:

  • Community consultation processes
  • Intersection of public spaces, private property, food access and community engagement

I think students will come to appreciate:

  • The creative opportunity to generate excitement and welcome community members into a public space
  • Challenges around growing food in an urban environment

Organizational Outcomes

  • Support with program effectiveness
  • Support with community engagement and excitement through food
source: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:LFS350/Projects/Fall2017/GNHHerbGarden