Tell us about the Yard Garden Harvest Project.
I have the pleasure of being the Yard Garden Program Coordinator (YGHP) at the LMNH. The program was started four years ago as a part of our multifaceted Food Hub initiative which was born from a growing concern about food security within our community.
The YGHP grows food in four of our neighbours’ front and back yards to provide local, community-grown produce to support the LMNH’s Food Distribution Program. The produce we grow supplements food from the Vancouver Food Bank, along with other local growers (City Beet Farm, UBC farm, food rescue organizations (Food Stash) and local businesses, to serve individuals and families experiencing food insecurity. The idea was sparked by a group of individuals who wanted to expand the positive impact of our Riley Park Community Garden by providing food grown with sustainable to those experiencing food insecurity and expanding spaces for people to learn how to grow food.
What an amazing program! What does your role as project coordinator look like?
This year the yard gardens grew and donated 27 weeks of food for the food distribution program. Our program offers 27 weeks of food distribution a year. During that time, I’m busy coordinating volunteers, setting up workshops, planning parties for our volunteer partners (we like to have fun!), and getting my hands dirty in the garden to help grow food. I close the beds in the winter and plan for the upcoming season.
How much food do you produce for the Food Distribution Program?
This year, we produced approximately 1500 pounds of healthy and delicious food on a mere 252 square metres of land with the support of 630 hours of volunteer time. We grew everything from daikon and Asian greens to broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes and strawberries. With rising food costs, our Food Distribution Program is seeing an increase in demand.
What are some of the benefits of the YGHP?
There are so many wonderful benefits to what we do. In addition to helping grow food for people experiencing food insecurity, the YGHP provides community members with a chance to create meaningful connections, contribute to the well-being of our community through volunteering and learn and practice sustainable farming.
We also put on many fun events for our community including educational workshops, volunteer appreciation nights, and social events. It is important to us that we provide a meaningful volunteer experience.
Tell us about your volunteers.
We have approximately 40 volunteers who help make this program successful. Our volunteers range from high school students to seniors and experienced gardeners to newbies. We welcome all ages and offer volunteer positions ranging from short garden shifts to long-term leadership roles from April through October.
For those interested in learning more about volunteering with us or how you can add your yard to our program, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.