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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Community Garden Planning in Burnaby Takes Root

On Saturday, February 25, Burnaby Food First hosted a Community Garden Planning workshop at Burnaby Village Museum. The idea was to get people thinking about available public land that might be suitable for community gardens. The intention was to plant the seeds of an idea...

Workshop facilitator Grant Rice soon discovered that those seeds had already been planted: many of the Burnaby community members who showed up had already picked out a potential garden site. They had come to find out how to make their gardens a reality.

Presentations by guests Jason Hsieh and Michael Denhamer helped participants look more specifically at opportunities, barriers and ways forward for the development of their imagined community gardens.

Hsieh spoke about his experience with the City of Vancouver, and walked participants through different guidelines and municipal policies that frame the process of establishing a community garden in Vancouver.

Denhamer, who works with Can You Dig It, explained the support that his organization can offer community garden groups in creating sustainable projects that become community assets. Can You Dig It has already helped communities create thriving gardens through 3-year commitments that aid in: navigating application processes and grant applications, locating infrastructure (such as water sources), licensing and insuring the garden, and helping new community gardeners establish governance.

This process was discussed at length in the small groups that formed following the presentations. Grant Rice, events and conference coordinator for Burnaby Food First, passed around maps of Burnaby and encouraged people to identify sites with the potential to become garden spaces. Working with Burnaby's website and maps, he helped participants examine the zoning and context of the sites.

Community gardens are more than communal green spaces. As Denhamer remarked, "community gardens grow food and cultivate community." Many of those who came would like to meet further to discuss future projects and next steps. Rev Kunz, who manages the Gathering Burnaby Gardeners Facebook group hopes that interested community members will get in touch through her page.

The afternoon was an exciting opportunity for Burnaby Food First to meet with local citizens who are spearheading gardening projects in their neighbourhoods. We hope this will become the next step of a greener Burnaby that provides greater food security within our municipality.

Many thanks to the United Way Lower Mainland for their continued support of Burnaby Food First initiatives, and to Burnaby Village Museum for the use of their facilities for our community workshop last weekend.

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