Eat if You’re Hungry – How Community Gardens Grew My Perspective

 

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“I keep feeding you and feeding you and feeding you…”
Wu-Tang Clan

Okay, the quote was a little out of context but hear me out.

I am a part of a community garden that has been around for over 6 years, so we know a thing or two about feeding. It’s a place where we learn about food, sustainability and each other.

Our garden is located in Malvern, an area within Toronto (Canada) that has had a rather unsavoury reputation in the past.  Despite what labels may have been attached to the neighbourhood, the residents persevere and thrive within the marginalized circumstances that affect them daily. One of the ways they are redefining the community is through communal gardening.

Malvern is the most culturally diverse neighbourhood in Toronto with nearly 90% of the community being a visible minority, according to a 2006 survey. Many of these residents are newly emigrated or first generation Canadian, bringing their own stories, recipes and “backyard” innovations to the table. I grew up and lived in Malvern for the first 25 years of my life and it was through the garden I felt the most integrated into the community.

But what is a community garden?

It is a common space, which can be divided in two ways, allotments or communal. In the allotment system, plots are assigned to individuals while in the communal system, all crops are shared and the space is maintained as a collaborative effort. Littles community garden, the garden in which I am a member and coordinator, is mixed with roughly half of the garden being communal.

But it’s more than just growing and harvesting. We donate roughly 10% of our crop yield to local food services and participate in various community events, bringing community members together through the medium of food. Also being community-based and a relatively young concept, a lot of times the imagination is the ceiling and you can experiment with many skill sets. I took what I was passionate about and honed in my media communications and marketing skills. Now we are on our way by innovating new communication methods, outreach and rebranding! <<check out my Portfolio>>

If you have access to a community garden, I urge you to visit, ask for a tour or participate yourself. It’s one of the greatest places to access organic vegetables and learn about the food systems that affect our globe. Feel free to comment below with any questions!

If you are in Toronto, reference the Toronto Community Garden Network for more information on gardens near you!

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