Photovoice in the Garden

The Our Food team of Ecology Action Centre is excited to share news of our collaborative project, co-organized with the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS). The project is entitled Photovoice in the Garden.
Photovoice is a way to share lived experiences through images. It is a participatory way to engage communities whose voices often go unheard – to provide a platform for them to share their stories with individuals and groups, who might not normally hear them. Through the process, we can also  deepen our understanding of an issue. The EAC works closely with ISANS gardeners, and through this recognized the richness of the stories told in these garden spaces. The two organizations worked in collaboration to support gardeners in sharing these stories, through photos and words. The project came together through a series of fruitful discussions. 12 community gardeners from 3 community gardens in Halifax’s West End volunteered to take part in the photovoice project. All of the gardeners involved were newcomers to Canada, coming from Bhutan, Nepal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Uganda and Afghanistan.
IMG_3144 We gave each participant a camera for the duration of the project. They took pictures that answered the question: ‘What does your garden mean to you?’ In a series of 4 sessions each person shared the story of their photo with the group and listened to the stories of others. Some common themes that emerged were the conversations of home and culture, feeling pride, and using the garden as a space for relieving stress.   From there, stories were gathered and mounted to panels alongside the photos they had taken, and a photobook was created – capturing the process through which the resulting photos and storytelling occurred.

Here is a preview of what was said (click to enlarge image):


To ensure everyone has a chance to see these stories, ISANS and EAC are taking it on the road – as a traveling art show!

photo (6)The panels are currently on display at Just Us! in Dartmouth, located at 15 King’s Wharf. If you are nearby, stop in and check out the various reading nooks where our panels are mounted.

Many of the ISANS gardeners self-identified, with pride, as farmers – ‘We are farmers’. More so, the gardeners named their dreams and opportunities for furthering their abilities to grow food, including:

We want more land to grow food: the garden plots are great and more of our friends and neighbours see the food we get from them and want a plot themselves. We could grow more with more land and bigger plots.


JustUS is a great fit for helping us celebrate these stories of agriculture, with fair trade coffee house locations across NS, a food farm in their back yard at their Wolfville location, and a year of celebrating women in agriculture, the co-op emphasizes the importance of fair support for farmers across the world. This past year, Just Us! Coffee Roasters has been celebrating women in agriculture.  I recently read an inspiring blog post by farmer-in-residence  for Just US! Centre for Small Farms, Sarah Pittoello.

 Over the course of the years and many visits to producer cooperatives with whom we partner in the Global South, we have witnessed the role of women in all the stages of coffee production.  Their hard work is something to be celebrated and appreciated with each cup. ~Sarah Pittoello Women also make the most significant contribution to food security by producing more than half of the world’s food, and providing more than 80% of the food needs of food-insecure households and regions (Shiva, 2010).

In Wolfville, Just Us!  has developed a beautiful growing and interactive space to host communities: garden_map

In addition to, and in conjunction with, the Centre for Small Farms, Just Us! has a farm in its backyard! The Just Us! Food Farm is comprised of four large gardens—a healing garden, farmers-in-residence garden, kitchen garden, and farmer-led research garden—with a circular gathering space at their center. ~Danielle Pierce

May 25th Update:

After a lot of hard work by our staff and volunteers, we have some great media available. Check out this 3 minute video from our Photovoice Gala, where 150 community members, service providers and local politicians gathered for a lively evening of fun and celebration.

To see the full photo exhibit and postcards we made to highlight key messages from the gardeners, go to our website.

Please help us celebrate this storytelling! Share *your* stories with us. Comment below if you’ve seen the Photovoice panels; let us know what you think. Or get in touch via email –

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