The Our Food Project of the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) regularly partners with community organizations and groups to support the development of food and gardening projects. Over the winter they heard that community members in Mulgrave Park were interested in starting a garden. Mulgrave Park is a large public housing community home to over 250 families in Halifax’s North End. With the EAC also being a north-ender, the food team naturally wanted to support this project.
Will Hill, a Community Food Programmer for Ecology Action Centre, tracked down the founding member of the garden project, Paige Farah of Progress in the Park, and started the conversation about how the EAC could help support. Over the next couple of months the food team helped to consult the project through its initial planning stages and eventually into implementation. Will connected project organizers to educational materials, offered advice and assistance, and connected them to the right people to turn this great idea into action.
Progress in the Park team leads, Paige Farah and Chelsea Tims, worked tirelessly to make this project a reality. The Food Team helped to provide a bit of expertise and experience to help them along. After months of planning and community consultation, Home Harvest was contracted to build 12 raised beds for the community. The building took place in late May and was a huge success. Over a hundred residents and visitors attended the build, including local politicians and friends of the community.
The beds were given to community members who registered in advance for a plot, and were quickly filled. Now each of the 12 beds are managed by a family or group of friends. A wait-list now suggests that more beds may be needed next year. In just two short months the garden has turned into an urban oasis, filled full of lush veggies, tended to by eager gardeners – many of them local kids from the neighborhood.
Along the way the food team has been offering regular programming and support; helping Progress in the Park iron out the wrinkles of their new garden project and helping to ensure its success. In June, Our Food built a pumpkin patch with the Caring & Learning Centre and Phoenix Youth with the idea that local kids could grow their very own pumpkins for Halloween this year.
… And it’s come along quite nicely since then!
Throughout August, Chelsea the Garden Program Coordinator, will be running a childrens’ garden program, Plants to Plates. The programming is based on the success and resources of Our Food’s Good Food First Club, which operated at 4 schools across Halifax. The Plants to Plates first workshop was “Getting Real About Food,” where children cooked a meal of spiced vegetable roasties and apple crisp, went on a plant scavenger hunt in the garden, and then played “Food Detective” by figuring out the sources of natural and processed foods.
Plans for future phases of the garden include an edible landscaping project, a market garden, fencing, a shed and rain barrel system as well as picnic tables, a shade shelter, and information centre around the garden area. Any and all donations are appreciated!