Strengthening the Food Movement: Convening Community Garden Leaders

Back in the Spring of 2014 we held a gathering in Halifax for Community Garden Coordinators. This was the second in a series of events supported by the Our Food Project to connect and support the leaders behind the gardens of Halifax. Check out the blog post from the first Storytelling Event we held last November 2013.

We met in the Penthouse of a building in the North End of Halifax, which offered beautiful vistas of the Halifax harbour and beyond.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe purpose of the day was to gather together to feel a sense of support, share insights, leverage knowledge and skills, and build relationships, as well as to strengthen the network of garden coordinators. We had 20 people at the event representing school gardens, university gardens, community gardens and other garden-related projects.

Goals, Strengths & Challenges for the Gardens
The main activity of the day was to get clear about goals, strengths and challenges for each garden. We started by getting each garden leader to write down their top three goals for the 2014 season. These were shared with the group and placed on a map next to their garden on a purple sticky note.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, using World Cafe, we went into small groups to answer the next two question: 1) Strengths: What are the personal &/or collective strengths that your project demonstrates, and how could they be shared with others? These were added to each garden on the map using a green sticky. 2) Challenges: What are the things that you foresee as being key challenges in the coming season? Again, these were added to the map using a pink (or blue) sticky.

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Mutual Support and Collaboration
After taking time to eat some delicious local snacks and meet some new people, we came back together as a group to brainstorm on the question: What role is there for mutual support and coordination, and what are the existing or needed mechanisms for this? Some themes that came up were:

1) Make clear what resources exist already

2) Work on developing a seed library

3) Connect to the Halifax Tool Library

4) Organize an end of season “Food Trade” to optimize the use of garden abundance

5) Provide gathering spaces for garden coordinators (like this event!)

6) Garden potluck nights

7) Use the Halifax Garden Network website and listserve to communicate and share resources

This session felt very energizing, people coming together recognizing the resources available and feeling more connected to others doing the work.

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Reflections About the Day
To end the session we asked everyone: What are you taking with you? Here’s what was said:

  • Feeling inspired, excited and energized
  • Feeling better connected to resources
  • We’ve built relationships
  • We’ve learned about other gardens in the city
  • We’ve learned from each other
  • Feeling appreciation for everyone working on this, and feeling supported in the work
  • Feeling a deeper sense of purpose

Bolstered by the ongoing success of these events, the Our Food Project will be hosting a Storytelling Circle for Community Garden Coordinators this fall in November 2014, as well as a Fundraising 101 workshop in the winter.

Post by Miranda Cobb, Community Food Researcher, Evaluator and Storyteller, with the Our Food Project. I can be reached at miranda at ecologyaction.ca if you have any questions.

 

 

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One thought on “Strengthening the Food Movement: Convening Community Garden Leaders

  1. Pingback: Local Food News — Canada | Local Food News

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