Envisioning Community Gardens as Permanent Fixtures in Our Communities

A couple of month ago I wrote a blog piece about “Evaluating the Impact of Subsidized Local Food Boxes in NS” as a student researcher and community gardener in Sackville, New Brunswick. Made possible by the renewed funding of FLEdGE, I have been tasked to work with the Cumberland Food Action Network (CFAN)’s Community Gardens Network to produce a directory of community gardens in the county. Each community garden will be recorded with contact information and specific details about the garden, including but not limited to, plot numbers, unique infrastructure, and greenhouse availability. In creating this accessible directory, I am hoping it will encourage networking and resource-sharing amongst the gardens.

Hope Harrison, Villa garden.JPG

In addition to creating the community garden directory, I will be working with Cumberland Health to develop a garden strategy in Cumberland County. The strategy  will include a comprehensive analysis of existing gardens and their governance structures, operations, financing and support. The purpose of this strategy is to promote long-term garden sustainability by providing useful recommendations for various levels of government to consider and advise. The aim is produce a policy document that will lead to institutionalizing and securing continued support and livelihood of community gardens as major centres in our communities.

Community gardens are a vital effort of sustaining shared traditional food knowledge in a modern world. Most often, community gardens are formed on re-purposed vacant land. By bringing plant diversity to these areas, community gardens transform open spaces into major food sources and healthy ecological spaces. Although each community garden operates differently, usually the typical garden model is in the form of rentable garden plots. People with various skill sets and ages are welcome and encouraged to garden by renting a shared or full plot for one season.  Community gardens are often linked to increased consumption of vegetables and fruits and physical activity for participants. In addition, they act as hubs in our community for events, gathering, and workshops. At the Sackville Community Garden in Sackville, NB, we hosted over five workshops last season on beekeeping, seed-saving, wood-fire bake oven training, and more! This season, we are hoping to include a workshop on natural plant dyeing.

Springhill garden party.JPG

Through this research work and as a coordinator of a community garden, I cannot stress enough the gardens’ important roles and impacts in Cumberland County. The gardens are a space for community empowerment, food resilience, and self-sufficiency. With the creation of the directory and policy document, hopefully we can ensure that community gardens have a permanent place in our neighbourhoods.

Guest blog written by:  Tina Yeonju Oh.  Tin a was raised on Treaty 6 (Edmonton, Alberta) and is a student at Mount Allison University on unceded Mi’kmaq territory. She is also the Sackville Community Garden Coordinator, a beekeeper-in-training, and a Research Assistant with the Ecology Action Centre, funded by a SSHRC research project out of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food called Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged (FLEdGE) (Atlantic Node):  Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged (FLEdGE)

Adventures in Local Food is your source for food news in Nova Scotia, from pickles to policy. It is a project organized by the Ecology Action Centre

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