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Growing Healthy Communities Project

The Growing Healthy Communities Project at POLIS was launched in 2001 to examine the role of community gardens in creating vibrant neighbourhoods and in promoting urban sustainability.

Spurred by the development of two community gardens in Victoria and Saanich – both gardens were sold to developers – the Growing Healthy Communities Project led by POLIS research associate Emily MacNair set out to promote community gardening in the Capital Regional District and to work with local groups on other food security issues.

The project focused on strengthening connections with local, regional and international community gardening and food security organizations to exchange information and build networks. Working with community gardeners and local groups, the project also encouraged the creation of policies to promote, develop and protect community gardens.

Two practical resources were produced during the project – both researched and written by Emily MacNair:

The City Gardens Handbook offers an analysis of the significance of community gardens in the region and includes recommendations for improving community access to gardens. It also offers practical guidance on how to secure land for community gardens. Seeds of Success explores how other cities have supported and protected their community gardens for the future, such as the highly successful P-Patches in Seattle, Washington.

Community gardens provide numerous benefits in urban and semi-urban settings. They provide access to land for those living in apartments, and a place to grow inexpensive, fresh and chemical-free food. By brining food production into the city, gardeners reduce the negative impacts of large-scale agriculture and transportation of food, and provide an accessible educational example of food production processes. With respect to urban ecology, community gardens reduce storm water runoff, improve soil quality, reduce urban temperatures through the shade and transpiration they generate, and provide insect and bird habitats.

 
Page last updated: 05/08/2007