August 28, 2013
The Urban Agriculture Tour was inspired during a planning session we had with one of our partner sites. Participants expressed a desire to see what others were doing in their communities, and so the idea of a tour was born.
In collaboration with our community partners, we brought together about 45 individuals from communities from across HRM to experience some of the food gardening projects that are happening in different parts of the city. Individuals came from the Halifax Refugee Clinic (HRC), Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre (BWFRC), and Immigrant Settlement & Integration Services (ISIS).
The day included stops at 4 different garden and farm sites:
1. Glen Garden, a project of ISIS (Immigrant Settlement & Integration Services). Located in Fairview/Clayton Park area
2. Spryfield Urban Farm, tour by Mhari Lamarque
3. Common Roots Urban Farm, tour by Jayme Melrose and Sarah Burgess
4. Hope Blooms, North End Community Garden, tour by Sarina Piercy and Hope Blooms Youth
The day presented opportunities for residents to connect with people from other neighbourhoods, and perhaps learn something new about the city that surrounds them. Most of the residents who attended the tour are engaged in food gardening in their own communities, and some even farmed in their home countries, before immigrating to Halifax. The tour was an opportunity for people to share their experiences and learn about all the amazing projects that others are connected to.
During our picnic lunch we feasted on greens that were grown at Common Roots Urban Farm, and enjoyed delicious salad dressing that was made by a collection of youth, who are part of the garden project “Hope Blooms” in the North End Community. It was a really social day, with residents of all ages making new connections.
There’s a lot of excitement around local food production in Halifax, and its these community projects that are really pushing things along. People who want to grow food are getting together and making it happen- and the tour was an opportunity to share our collective results, and also inspire more growth.
What was your favorite part of the day?
Will Hill, Community Food Programmer, EAC
“Impromptu Stop at the Glen Forest Garden: My favourite part of the day came early on. We arrived 30 minutes early to Glen Forest Road to pick up our friends from Immigration Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS). Being a little early we had some time to kill before we ventured out for a full day of garden tours. We already had our eager tour participants from Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre (BWFRC) and the Halifax Refugee Clinic (HRC) aboard the bus, so we decided to pencil in an impromptu visit to the Glen Forest Garden. The participants from BWFRC and HRC eagerly hopped from bed to bed, admiring the lush gardens that lay before them. Gradually, our tour participants from ISIS trickled out of the apartment buildings across the street and mingled with their garden admirers, proudly displaying the fruits of their labour. Already, before the official tour had begun, I felt it was a success as gardeners shared tips and gleaned new ideas to try in their own gardens.”
Mhari Lamarque, Garden Coordinator, Spryfield Urban Farm
“What fun it was! Thanks so much for the beautiful day. My favourite part was looking down on the field from the old apple tree seeing everyone exploring the farm in small groups – some people gathering apples in their shirts, some pulling up leaves to see the massive zucchinis, some smelling the scented lilies. So much curious natter and many smiling faces.”
Aimee Carson, Community Food Coordinator, EAC
“My favorite moment was…. Lunchtime! As we dispersed amongst the beautiful setting at Common Roots Urban Farm, lunch was a picnic style arrangement whereby participants brought food from home, and this was further supplemented by fresh local greens from the farm. I was holding an empty plate (and about to grab the oh-so-uninspired packed lunch I had made that morning) when a number of participants from ISIS started filling my plate with a myriad of dahls, chutneys, curry’s and sweet breads. We ate the traditional Nepalese food under the shade of the arbour, and with limited language (but lots of understanding), we connected over the joy of delicious food.”
Marla MacLeod, Community Food Coordinator, EAC
“I loved the sense of possibility. The number of times people said “We could do that at our garden.” And the conversations that took off from that point – the place of possibility.”
What we heard from participants:
I (Miranda Cobb, Community Food Researcher, EAC) had the opportunity to sit with a group of Bhutanese participants and a translator from ISIS. I asked them a few questions:
“What is your favorite part of the day?”
– Being together!
– Making friends
– Talking with one another
– Seeing places we haven’t seen before
– Eating food
– Learning about plants in our own garden through seeing what is being done elsewhere
“Why is gardening important to you?”
– Because we grew food in our home country
– To eat!
– To grow things that we can’t buy here, such as pumpkin shoots and leaves (great for curry!)