Growing change at Humber
Where does your food come from? Why does it matter? The new Humber Food Learning Garden is a space for students and community members to learn about sustainable urban agriculture, local food security, and how to grow and harvest their own fresh, healthy food in whatever space is available to them.
The Humber Food Learning Garden is a demonstration garden and outdoor classroom located behind the Humber College Residence Buildings on the Humber Arboretum grounds. Officially opened in 2018, this multi-use space exists to:
Like many projects at Humber Arboretum, the creation of the Humber Food Learning Garden also provided hands-on learning opportunities for students who assisted in the construction of the garden, either as part of of the Landscape Technician Diploma program or as a work study employee.
The Humber Food Learning Garden is a joint initiative of Humber Arboretum and Humber College's Centre of Innovation in Health & Wellness. It was generously funded by a grant from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.
While the plantings change from year-to-year, most of what is harvested from the Humber Food Learning Garden will look familiar to food gardeners from around Southern Ontario:
Less common in the average backyard garden are the ornamental edibles – flowers which will add a splash of colour to the beds and a splash of flavor to salads, pasta, and other dishes.
The Humber Food Learning Garden expands the local food production capacity of the Humber Arboretum, which also offers seasonal educational opportunities related to sustainable urban beekeeping and maple syrup production.
Did you know? The tall fencing surrounding the Food Learning Garden protects it from grazing by local wildlife, which is abundant at the Humber Arboretum. If given the chance, the groundhogs, rabbits, and white-tailed deer would all love to do a little food learning of their own!
From spring 2016 to 2018, the Rexdale neighbourhood around the Humber Arboretum was one of 45 communities that participated in the Healthy Kids Community Challenge as part of Ontario's Healthy Kids Strategy. The Humber Arboretum participated in the Rexdale Foodie Festival and was the location for a food tower garden workshop for educators. In the summer of 2018, a Power Off and Play grant from HKCC Rexdale brought 400 local youth to the Arboretum free of charge, covering transportation, a nature education program, and a healthy snack of fresh fruit for every child.
In January 2017, Humber College's Centre of Innovation in Health and Wellness launched the Healthy Kids Change-Maker Challenge (HKCMC) as a platform to bring Humber College students, faculty, and staff together with community and industry partners to develop innovative ideas in support of Ontario's Healthy Kids Strategy. That March, the Centre for Urban Ecology (CUE) was the site of the HKCMC Healthy Kids Town Hall.
In February 2018, Humber College brought the non-profit, government, and business sectors together with students and faculty at the CUE for Healthy Living, Healthy Growing in Rexdale, a dialogue regarding the intersections between food security and healthy child and youth development. You can explore the ideas and discussions from that day for yourself in the illustration below, which was created throughout the event by an artist working on whiteboard: