Garden Gaps and SWOT: The vision for growing food in Little Mountain


The Little Mountain Riley Park Neighbourhood Food Network (LM-RP NFN) is building a new community garden and has two goals for a student project: to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to food production in LM-RP and to identify what current gardeners and urban food producers envision for the new garden. The two main tasks for students working on this project are to develop, implement and analyze a survey of LM-RP gardeners, and to review the BC school curriculum to identify how gardening education can be integrated. While some work can be done remotely, students will be expected to visit various community centres, neighbourhood houses, schools and gardens in LM-RP some evenings and to participate in the Sustenance Festival on Sunday October 18. This project is especially relevant for students majoring in food and the environment or plant science and/or who want to learn more about urban agriculture, food environments, and education.  For this project, you need to be knowledgeable about growing food and able to create and use a survey. Throughout the project, you’ll learn about asset mapping, the BC curriculum and successful community garden models.

Full Project Description

Garden Gaps and SWOT: The vision for growing food in Little Mountain

Organization name: Little Mountain Riley Park Neighbourhood Food Network (LM-RP NFN)

Mission of organization: LM-RP NFN is sponsored by Little Mountain Neighbourhood House. Visit for more information on the role and mission of NH’s.

The Little Mountain Riley Park (LM-RP) Neighbourhood Food Network works with community members, businesses, and organizations to ensure that all our residents have access to healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate and nutritious food. Together, we are growing the community – one connection at a time. Growing food, eating together, sharing around the table connects us to each other and to our community.

LM-RP NFN is a member of the VNFN (Vancouver Neighbourhoood Food Network). NFN’s are part of the Greenest City action plan as a strategy to increase access to local food.
We have three priorities: the RP-LM Community Garden Project, the Food Asset Map and increasing community awareness around our work and food security issues.

Description of project opportunity: LM-RP Community Garden Project: We are building a garden that is:

  • community based;
  • builds on our existing gardens, allowing us to share our collective knowledge and expertise, contributing to our resilient, healthy community; and
  • accessible and inclusive for all members of LM-RP.

This project opportunity focuses on Objective #2 above. As we are building a new community garden, we want to formalize and assess the existing gardens on school and public property and urban agriculture activity in LM-RP. This includes the two high schools (Tupper and Eric Hamber), EYA Pollinator projects (Bee Hotel etc), three elementary schools, Seed to Sky Garden Club, CityBeet Farm, Inner City Farm and District Main.

We want input from existing gardens on what they see as the role of the new garden, how they fit in, education opportunities etc.
The project includes interviews with existing garden partners, a SWOT and Gap analysis, funding sources, challenges, best practices and education. This includes assessing the BC curriculum and how the lessons taught in elementary school integrate into the high school and to the new community garden.

Skills required:

  • Interview development
  • Knowledge of community gardens and growing food.
  • Outgoing and capacity to make phone calls, setup meetings and interview community members.

Skills to be developed through the opportunity:

  • Knowledge of the BC Curriculum for Indigenous content (as it relates to food)
  • Research of models (or follow up on the bibliography provided by the UBC Community Engagement Librarian as part of their current information gathering) as it relates to the project
  • Interview analysis and making recommendations
  • Community capacity building
  • Capacity to collaborate with the UBC LFS 350 class project doing the same survey in Hastings Sunrise (using the same survey, sharing research etc).

Project location: Project will take place in Little Mountain Riley Park with great public access and bike paths (NH is at 24th and Main St). Other gardens are in the area. Some work is done on the phone and email.

Days of week and hours project will take place?: Some evening meetings and weekend (Sunday October 18 daytime) to help with the Sustenance Festival Event at Hillcrest. The project scope should fit the hours recommended by the course.

Primary contact for the students:
Joanne MacKinnon, Coordinator LM-RP NFN
Address: 3981 Main Street, Vancouver
Phone: 778.998.3471

Experiential components to enhance student engagement:

  • Sustenance Festival at Hillcrest on October 18. Time 1-4.
  • Garden work parties at the schools; education for the classes.

Learning outcomes:

  • Research on best practices for commons access gardens and how to increase community capacity building through gardens
  • Asset mapping of who is growing food and where in LM-RP; and the current support infrastructure such as pollinator projects
  • The range of growing food options in an community and strategies on how to increase accessibility by residents to this activity.

Organizational Outcomes:

  • Have a baseline analysis of the existing ‘public’ gardens in LM-RP to better understand how the new LM-RP Community Garden can work collaboratively and in partnership
  • Identifying the gaps and opportunities for partnerships; to more clearly define the expectations of the new garden
  • Recommendations on how the gardens in LM-RP can share resources, expertise, space and funding to increase the overall community’s level of food security and our residents access to fresh produce.