Working Together to Grow More: Community Gardener Gatherings
Since 2014, the Arctic Institute of Community-Based Research has hosted four annual community gardener gatherings in Whitehorse, YT. These gatherings are an opportunity for community garden members from across the Yukon gathered to meet, learn from each other, and to hear presenters on topics ranging from growing and management techniques, to weather patterns and compost handling issues. Each gathering agenda was built using a participatory approach, whereby community partners and gardeners identified the topics they were most interested in learning about. Feedback from the gardeners about the gatherings demonstrated the positive influence and community development that emerges when people gather, share and grow together.
Highlights from the three Gatherings:
In March 2014, thirty five people from across the Yukon gathered for two days to share their experiences and learn together about challenges and successful strategies for running community gardens in Yukon. Seven Yukon First Nation communities, six non-profit organizations and Yukon government representatives attended the workshop. As well, representatives from the Yukon Food System Design and Planning Project participated.
Throughout the gathering, participants summarized the importance of community gardens in several ways, including providing access to local healthy foods for preventing diabetes and other chronic diseases; contributing to development of capacity in local farming; providing healthy options to offset the high costs of food in grocery stores; and facilitating the connections between food and community members, particularly elders and youth. Recommendations from participants included to host another workshop to keep strengthening the network, and to identify ways to keep people connected until they come together again. Some of the Best Practices participants identified included: Community engagement is critical to the success of a community garden (i.e. host events, gatherings, workshops); involve children in the garden, they are the link to families; have a management and governance structure (committee); running a successful community garden requires a great time and energy commitment; growers must be passionate; start small but leave room to grow.
On March 24th and 25th 2015, the Arctic Institute of Community-Based Research in partnership with Yukon Government-Agriculture Branch, Community Development Fund, Public Health Agency of Canada, Recreation & Parks Association of the Yukon, Growers of Organic Foods Yukon, and others hosted a community garden and economic development gathering called Working Together to Grow More 2: Community Gardeners & Economic Development Gathering 2015. Altogether, 55 participants registered and attended the gathering, including most communities from across the Yukon, as well as representatives from Atlin British Columbia, and from the Northwest Territories. This gathering was an opportunity to bring Yukon growers and others together to build relationships, network and share their learnings and challenges with each other, while also having opportunity to benefit from experts in growing, building capacity for community economic development, and engaging with others who are growers and leaders for food security in their community. Participants left equipped with new resources, inspiration, and a network of people they can call on while undertaking the important activities of running a successful community garden.
In March 2016, community garden members from across the Yukon gathered to meet, learn from each other, and to hear presenters on topics ranging from growing and management techniques, to weather patterns and compost handling issues. The 54 attendees enthusiastically shared their expertise throughout. During the open-style sessions by northern presenters, growers and experts explored a range of topics from different corners of the food system. Participants came from ten Yukon communities, seven First Nations, the City of Whitehorse, and five non-governmental organizations, spanning a total of 17 community gardens. Three years of inter-agency support for community gardens is showing: Eight new community gardens are establishing this year. The sharing of the dreams for the new gardens made the gathering especially fulfilling and exciting.
Participants were curious about how to grow local and imported fruiting shrubs and trees and stressed their desire to develop their techniques in working with nature as they develop their community gardens. Presentations on fruit and permaculture stoked interest and imagination in the participants. Greenhouse information was also sought. Presentations covered what design elements to consider, a tour of two greenhouses and details on greenhouse crop management. Participants left with appetites wetted for gardening and learning more ways to grow their community food sovereignty.
Together with our partners, we hosted the 4th annual community garden gathering March 14-15th, 2017 at the Yukon College Seniors’ Residence in Whitehorse, Yukon. Fifty community gardeners from across the Yukon gathered to network and share with each other and learn from expert Yukon growers. Nine of the 14 Yukon First Nations were represented and participants came from eight Yukon communities in addition to Whitehorse. Participants were keen to discuss tips and tricks for dealing with pests, building soil and compost, saving seeds, and more. The first evening, AICBR also co-hosted a public event with the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, called ‘Growing in Community’, which brought together 32 people on a snowy evening to listen to six presentations and have a fruitful discussion on how growing can bring community together and help us be more self-sustainable. The gathering closed with an opportunity to visit two local farms and learn about operations.
Funding & Partners
The Arctic Institute of Community-Based Research gratefully acknowledges funding from the Yukon Government-Agriculture Branch Growing Forward 2 (2014-2016), Yukon Government-Community Development Fund (2015), the Public Health Agency of Canada (2014-2016), as well as partnership funding from the Recreation & Parks Association of Yukon (2016). We'd also like to thank our 2017 partners Growers of Organic Food Yukon and the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.
- [pdf] Working Together to Grow More 4: Growing a Food Secure Yukon (2017)
- [pdf] Working Together to Grow More 3: Community Gardener Gathering 2016 (2016)
- [pdf] Working Together to Grow More 2: Community Gardeners & Economic Development Gathering 2015 (2015)
- [pWorking Together to Grow More: Yukon Community Gardening Gathering 2014 (2014) df]