Community Garden

Humber is becoming greener and everyone is involved! Humber Sustainability Highlights feature people and departments around the College integrating sustainable practices. This month’s focus is the Green Artisan Retailers & Designers Environmental Networking Space (GARDENS) Community Pod Project at Lakeshore campus.

The project was brought to campus by Wanda Buote, Principal of Lakeshore campus and Kavelle Maharaj, event coordinator and community liaison.

Buote was looking for ways to get involved and establish relationships in the community after starting her new role as the principle in 2012. After hearing about the project through a friend, she decided to join. Buote is now a co-chair of the GARDENS Advisory Council (GAC).

The GAC is made up of individuals and groups from Ward 6 in South Etobicoke committed to creating and maintaining community gardens in the area.

“Our mission is food security support for low-income earners, lone-parent families, seniors and people living with disabilities in the area,” says Buote.

The GAC operates in collaboration with the LAMP Community Health Centre to assist in creating an Urban Agricultural Framework for South Etobicoke, a newly defined Urban Priority Area in the City of Toronto.

In an effort to engage residents in Ward 6 in community building and resolving issues regarding food security, the GAC wanted to create and implement a community garden. However, after searching the area it became evident that there was not a communal space large enough.

“This is how the Pod Project began,” says Maharaj. “The idea was based off of a community garden. Except that the pods are smaller planter beds, raised off the ground that can be assembled and disassembled making them simple to locate throughout the community.”

During the pilot in 2016, there were 10 organization pods and three residential pods. One of those was located at Humber’s own Fashion Institute.

“It was an ideal place to put one of the pods as part of the pilot project. It had optimum sun exposure, a water source, and most importantly, it was a central location; very much embedded in the community,” says Buote. “Every time I was there watering, weeding or harvesting, a community member would stop and say what a great idea and ask how they could get involved.”

An amazing part of the pod project is what happens with the food that is harvested. Last year’s crop produced 122 kg of fresh fruit and vegetables that were then donated to the Daily Bread Food Bank in Etobicoke, and to the LAMP CHC Good Food Market.

Want to learn more? Interested in volunteering? Find out more about the project on their website: http://www.gardenslakeshore.ca/gardens-pod-project-2016.