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Reimagine Food Story: Food from Home = Food for Home

Posted on: September 21, 2023

Last week you were introduced to Dr. Karen Houle’s project The Art of Soil Collective. This week we’ll be digging into their mini-project called Food from Home = Food for Home (FFH)2. (FFH)2 is an urban agriculture project located in Westmount, next to Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Guelph.

(FFH)2 received $30,000 from Our Food Future and spread the funds over 5 years; an impressive jump from the initial 3-year plan! From the beginning, the project was volunteer-run. Two years into the project, they hired Rafael Osorio as an Urban Farm Coordinator. Rafael got involved in 2021 after hearing about the project while taking an English course at the Saint George Institute. Rafael and his wife were joint participants before he was hired in 2023.

The community garden is open to anyone who identifies as a newcomer, anyone who feels that there are types of foods that they are interested in growing that they cannot find in Guelph, or anyone who would like to become more knowledgeable about community gardening. Participating in the community garden is completely free.

The (FFH)2 project explicitly wants to increase the number of newcomers participating in community gardens, which is why they were intentional about the location of their community garden!

“A lot of folks don’t know [about community gardening opportunities] and they don’t know that they have the right to join them or how to do it” – Dr. Karen Houle

Access to resources, technology, communication, familial responsibilities, and transportation, among others, affect newcomers’ ability to easily participate in community programming. The Westmount garden is accessible via active and public transportation, which reduces some of the physical barriers to participation.

Although each year participation is different, what remains the same is the positive community impact. Participants bond over communal gardening experiences that lead to strong neighborly connections.

“There are neighbors who have visited the Garden and have told us that they are pleased with the concept and have even expressed their interest in participating” – Rafael Osorio

The garden is a hub for multiculturalism and provides a safe space for people to grow and exchange a range of culturally relevant foods.

“If you ask some people at the (FFH)2, there are some very moving things that they said about what it meant for them to grow callaloo for the first time here. I’ve seen men cry harvesting the food that they used to eat when they were kids. I’ve seen people burst out laughing and applaud when they noticed we had some food that they didn’t know grew here so those are the ways that I’ve seen it be positive.” – Dr. Karen Houle

During this project, (FFH)2 received $5,000 from Our Food Future and $2,000 from the Guelph-Wellington Shovel to Fork Award to produce “It Makes A Village”. The documentary provides an overview of how to establish a community garden.

While the future of (FFH)2 is unknown, continued investment in the project could help improve the current infrastructure, increase access to tools, and fund multiple community garden sites! This would increase participation, leading to improved local food security.

To learn more about the project or to get involved, check out their webpage and connect with those responsible for the project!

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