Hello Adventures in Local Food readers- my name is Heather and I am currently working with the Our Food Team as a Digital Skills Intern. Over the past couple months I have had the pleasure of redesigning the Halifax Garden Network Website. I’ve gained experience in my field of design – as well as had opportunities to step away from the computer and conduct interviews, build garden beds, participate in canning workshops and join in on potlucks and garden work parties.
Through this hands-on research I have been able to gain insight into the greater system the Halifax Garden Network plays into. Systems Thinking is the study of looking for the whole, seeing the connections or systems that make up the world we live in (nothing exists in isolation). It is “the belief that the relationships between [the links in the system] are the drivers of change“. (John Blakey, Challenging Coaching)
I believe Community Gardens are testing grounds for developing sustainable communities – the links that make up the the system of strong Communities are the same links within strong Community Gardens.
The Halifax Garden Network (HGN) evolved from the EAC’s Urban Garden Project. It began as a blog, then moved to a website format in 2013. The HGN features a map and directory of all the community gardens in the HRM as well as resources for starting and maintaining a community garden. At its root it is a source for uniting gardens into a greater community, celebrating accomplishments and sharing knowledge.
There are three areas of the redesign I am most excited to share; the updates to the map and garden profiles, the resource section (called the “Toolshed”) and three Storytelling pieces.
The new and improved Garden Map is intended to be used as a quick reference tool; displaying general directional and contact information for the 42 gardens registered with the HGN. For more information we will look to the garden profile section. The Garden Profiles are broken down in the three areas of focus; Community Gardens, School Gardens and Points of Interest. Each profile shows where the garden is located, photos of the plots and details like contact information and gardener responsibilities.
The Toolshed has had a major renovation as well, the 31 resources available on the HGN have been evaluated for quality, sorted into appropriate categories and, if needed, redesigned and reformatted. Every resource is now easy to find, download and ready to be shared with planning committees, work parties or pinned up in garden sheds.
The three Storytelling pieces were created to demonstrate that Gardens are not just communal places for growing food but also growing places for…Food Security (HUGS Garden) Youth Entrepreneurship (Hope Blooms) and Farmer Training ( Common Roots and Spryfield Urban Farm) These three stories are just the start of what I hope will be a portion of the site alive with stories that celebrate the accomplishments of community and school gardens.
Small acts of engagement will keep the Halifax Garden Network vibrant; the addition of photographs, toolkits, resources and stories– directly from gardeners– will nurture and strengthen the community spirit. Keep up the good work community gardeners! What you have created in your neighbourhoods and school yards has been an inspiration during my time here with the EAC.
Check out the Halifax Garden Network
To share your toolkits, event listings and feedback, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Join our Flickr group https://www.flickr.com/groups/halifaxcommunitygardens
and add your photos (the photos are filtered onto the HGN’s Gardens Page from the group!)
To read more about Systems Thinking, I suggest http://www.lindaboothsweeney.net/