Eight years ago, ten households (including mine) and others began small-scale community gardens in Saskatoon. We had ten garden plots with gardeners and volunteers from 3 nations. We invited residents from nearby communities to join in. A lot of them resided at apartment buildings on University of Saskatchewan campus-owned apartments.
The poverty around us is characterized by a deficiency of healthy, affordable food that is further exacerbated by the isolation of communities and cultural shock; we decided to establish a multicultural, ecologically sustainable community garden. We wanted to work in food sovereignty and reconciling. We hoped to bring together Indigenous Peoples, racialized minorities, and other minorities who are not visible to talk about decolonization and reconciliation.
The Food and Agriculture (FAO) Organization of the United Nations refers to food sovereignty as “a basic human right.” It’s the right to have access to healthy foods and to regulate the food policy.
We aimed to create an area where adults and children could cultivate their food and also learn to build food security within our community. We wanted to share what we learned with larger communities.
This image shows art-related activities in the Saskatoon Community Garden. The author has provided the picture.
Starting small and then persevering at it, we were able to expand our garden and, together with it, our knowledge as well as our multicultural community. A lot of children visited all the time, especially on weekend hours and in summer when the school was closed.
We employed a participatory method of research that involved the entire community, and we published the findings in The Local Environment journal. Based on our research, I believe that cross-cultural land-based practices can bring positive changes to an urban setting.
Learning through the land was a key element of our garden activities. Learning through land-based means of learning to establish relationships with the land and Indigenous people, insects, and animals. The lessons learned from the garden community give educators valuable insights, particularly those keen to integrate land-based learning and people who want to develop an identity of belonging within multicultural groups. The result is that belonging and land-based learning can lead to the empowerment of communities.
In fact, the provision of space and resources to educate our community to cultivate food has had amazing effects. By the end of 2018, the garden area was now 120 garden plots, with more than 25 different countries and diverse cultures.
Membership has risen to include 400 adults and 60 kids. Six sharing plots were constructed. Two stories were designed to share food with the local community. Two stories were for students, and two stories were for neighbours who aren’t able to access gardens.
We have discovered that ensuring the sustainability of the environment through cross-cultural engagement will help us develop our understanding of interspecies communication, the land-based curriculum, as well as community-based learning and knowledge about reconciliation and decolonization.
Our garden community plays a crucial role in ensuring that we have enough food and food security.
The Canadian main narrative on sustainability is based on Indigenous knowledge and savors concepts from a variety of communities and groups of cultures. Community gardening and learning on land is a method that could aid in reframing the narrow view of the notion of sustainability.