Supporting Common Roots Urban Farm Through Research, 2020
Team —
Susan Fitzgerald, Alejandro Adriazola, Stavros Kondeas
Description —
How can we leverage knowledge from academia to support local organizations through research and visual representations?
Both the Common Roots Urban Farm (CRUF) Halifax and the Back to Our Roots Urban Farm (BTOR) in Dartmouth are considered part of the public health infrastructure in HRM as their programs help to develop positive wellbeing. They also work to foster economic and social inclusion among newcomers to Canada and work closely with the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS). The model of these farms is interesting as it encompasses three levels of expertise and involvement: market gardens for knowledgeable farmers to cultivate produce for retail and donations to the food bank, community gardens for recreational use and self provisioning, and the commons for people who are wandering through and want to sample the harvest. Jayme Melrose, founder of CRUF, recognized early on that these everyday interactions are vital for a garden to develop knowledge transfer among the experienced, recreational, and occasional farmers and to promote the practice more broadly beyond the borders of the garden.
Newcomers to Canada are among some of the most skilled farmers at the site, people such as Imelda Nduwimana who is originally from Burundi and came to Canada five years ago via a Tanzanian refugee camp. She identified the importance of the connection between culture and food at the garden. Her expertise in farming, despite different climatic conditions, has transferred much more precisely than it would for a person with a background in industrial farming and Imelda has developed valuable knowledge within the community about crops, composting, and caring for plants.
Our research team assisted them with their relocation to a new site in Halifax by creating an inventory of attributes that the farm provided including social, economic, and environmental characteristics. The creation of visuals developed with input from the extended CRUF team enabled the development of an online resource entitled Urban Farms Everywhere: Implementation Guide (Common Roots Urban Farm 2021). Ongoing conversations with Jayme Melrose have been invaluable as part of design studios regarding food infrastructure since 2014. ​​​​​​​
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