Farewell

As the semester comes to a close, so does our project with Vancouver Coastal Health. If you would like to see our infographic to summarize our project please click here: Group 11 Project Infographic


Moment of Significance: The Process of Finalizing Our Project

What?

Over the past few months we worked closely with community members trialling the Vancouver Food Asset Map (VFAM) and collecting data via surveys. In addition, we were able to contribute to the VFAM by adding and updating food assets. We then were able to summarize our findings with the creation of an infographic. To begin our infographic, we compiled the survey data we collected from 20 community members. Of the entire survey we selected 3 questions to display on our infographic, which we thought best highlighted and concluded the results of the survey. We then assigned roles for efficient completion of the infographic. We started off with an exceedingly informative infographic on which we based our elevator pitch. We later decided to trim out unnecessary details to highlight our main focal points, including the three questions chosen from the surveys.  

So What?

After working on this group project, we collectively agree with Phillips (2014) that diversity does make us smarter. Each of us was able to use our individual experiences to help uncover circumstances or problems using our diverse perspectives. Even though we all come from the same faculty, we are specializing in different majors. This allowed each group member to focus on different aspects of the project therefore creating stronger and broader discussions, which helped analyze problems from various perspectives. Through our group discussions and meetings, we were able to learn the strengths of each group member. This helped us design a plan of action for the upcoming infographic and presentation. Within our group, one member had experience with graphic design so they were able to use their skills to execute the design of the infographic. Two of our group members have experience and are comfortable with public speaking; therefore they were chosen to present the infographic. After recognizing each member’s individual strengths, we were able to apply them to our final project to achieve maximum efficiency in completing and sharing our findings. Overall, this project has given us a better understanding of asset-based community development (ABCD) through working with Vancouver’s food production assets and conducting research for the VFAM. We value that this project has allowed us to put the ABCD concept to practice as well as experience the benefits first hand. We were able to learn about the existing food assets that Vancouver has to offer all while increasing the accessibility and effectiveness of these assets. We were able to do this both directly and indirectly by updating the map itself and by gathering suggestions from community members. It was interesting to hear what community members had to say about the map and how suggestions differed from person to person. As explained by Sirolli (2012), it is important to listen to the individuals who you are trying to help in order to fully understand their perspective. This concept was highlighted during the map trialling sessions and allowed us to better develop the map for who it is intended for which is ultimately the Vancouver community.

Now What?

With our well-developed infographic and knowledgeable presenters, we feel it is crucial to deliver our message adequately so that other members of the community may become inspired to explore this food asset tool. We believe the VFAM is a valuable resource and encourage all members of the community to use it. By spreading this message, we would like see a community-wide increase in the awareness and utilization of the VFAM. Our suggestion for groups who work on this project in the future is to consider the implementation of trialling, promotion and education of the VFAM to community members at public community libraries. One challenge we recognize is that the VFAM is an internet tool and people affected by food insecurity may not have frequent or easy access to the internet. Therefore, public libraries are an ideal location where computers and internet are readily available. A location such as this also allows us to better interact and help community members with questions and navigation of the map. As we wrap up our time with this project and hand it off to the next group we look forward to seeing further growth and development.

In the remaining time of the semester we are looking forward to presenting our infographic to the UBC community. Additionally, we will be wrapping up the last pieces of our project, which include finalizing the new and updated food production assets for the map and writing the final report. Throughout the term we have found success in our strategy of communicating effectively, recognizing each other’s strengths and delegating roles. As we move on to write our final paper, we will continue using this approach in order to finish strong. 


 

Strategies for a Graceful Dismount

Weekly Achievements – Upon Reflection

Week 7:

  • Updated existing food asset information with information that was missing or no longer correct on the excel data sheet. This was completed by searching for recent information regarding the assets through the internet, phone calls, emailing and in person visits, and then updating the data in the spreadsheet.
  • Collected new data regarding potential food assets. Members of the group strived to collect a large amount of data by internet browsing, phone calls, emailing and in person visits. The data collected was then inputted into the spreadsheet.

Week 8:

  • This past week we trialed the map at three Save on Food locations in
    Vancouver to gain insight on its usefulness. We found that the publicexpressed interest in this resource, and wanted to learn more.
  • Some struggles involved being ignored, people making excuses not to talk to us or just saying no before we even finished trying to tell them what we were doing. Moreover, the senior population also seemed overwhelmed with the advanced use of technology.
  • Some achievements included, meaningful conversations with a few people about food system problems such as food waste, teaching someone about CSAs (and this person getting really excited about this opportunity), and impressing a couple of people with the innovative VFAM resource.
  • We also interacted with some fellow UBC students that were very fascinated with the efforts of the Faculty of Land & Food Systems as well as Vancouver Coastal Health in creating the Vancouver Food Asset Map.
  • Other community members and students also felt inspired and asked about ways to get involved.
  • We thought of ways to use the constructive feedback to offer further improvement suggestions.


Objectives – Moving Forward

Week 9:

  • Data collection week! Group members will continue their efforts to collect data on new food production assets and update the information of the existing assets. Any findings will be uploaded to the spreadsheet.
  • Review and summarize the feedback collected from community members, while trialing the food asset map. Use this information to offer improvement suggestions.

Week 10:

  • Last chance to collect and record any data regarding the food production assets.
  • Group members review the excel submissions and ensure that formatting, entries, and all other components are in order.
  • Analyze the community member feedback from the map trialling.
  • Group meeting to prepare an action plan for completing the presentation, infographic and final paper.

Week 11:

  • Begin focus work on developing a presentation, infographics, and writing the paper.
  • Group meeting to prepare and organize the upcoming deliverables that will be provided to our community partner, Teya Stephens, who can use this information to enhance the map.

Week 12:

  • Complete the last blog post and reflections.
  • Present our infographic to our peers and other community members.
  • Share our experiences such as the successes of our project, the results, what we have learned from the project, and how we will move forward in the future.
  • Discuss the essentials needed to build and sustaining community change and programs.

Week 13:

  • Submit the group final paper.
  • Sigh with relief and accomplishment!

Moment of Significant Change Workshop

The opportunity to learn flexibly while working with the community allowed us to gain an enhanced understanding of ourselves and the significance of our contributions. Through this exercise during tutorial, we were able to communicate as a group and share all our experiences so far in the course. Overall, we observed in both our skills/knowledge and emotions/feelings graphs that we had all undergone similar experiences. Hence understanding the interconnected nature of these two graphs. In several instances, we found that a change in our skills + knowledge had an influence on our emotions + feelings and vice versa, as our emotions + feelings played a role in how we approached new knowledge. This experience relates to the concept of how our emotions and feelings can have an effect on our learning (Shulman, 2005). As expressed in the article by Shulman (2005), “conditions of inherent and un-avoidable uncertainty” allow for individuals to be cognizant of their experience and actions, which enables learning from one’s experiences. When we were confused or uncertain with a task (e.g. creating our proposal), we felt a little frustrated and discouraged; however, it was these situations that led us to gain more knowledge and skills, as we sought help from our community partner, TA, and professor and worked through these challenges as a group. Ultimately, we agree with Shulman’s statement that “without a certain amount of anxiety and risk, there’s a limit to how much learning occurs” (Shulman, 2005). In community-based learning we are exposed to situations, such as beginning a new project or trialing the food asset map with community members, where we may undergo uncertainty and/or anxiety but we can ultimately enhance our knowledge by being “obligated to learn from experience” (Shulman, 2005). Moreover, the diversity of our group allowed for an enriched intellectual experience since we all problem-solved in our own unique way (Phillips, 2014).

Skills and Knowledge Throughout the Course

Community-based learning occurs both in a group and on an individual level. Nevertheless, each of our graphs on the skills and knowledge throughout the course were all quite similar. We felt that throughout the first few weeks we learned on a steady incline. We were introduced to community based experiential learning and why we would be doing it; it is important to not only learn in the classroom but apply this knowledge to real life situations. During week 2 we felt the readings, especially Allen’s (2008) paper, “Mining for justice in the food system: perceptions, practices and possibilities”, was a good resource to enforce the lessons taught in class on food justice. While writing our proposal we realized we didn’t know as much as we previously thought, hence the drop in the graph, and we sought help to get back on the right track with our proposal. It has been increasing since then as we learn more about our project – for example, how to update the excel sheet for the food assets, the most effective way to search for new food assets, and going through the learning process of trialing the map with members of the community. We plan and hope the learning continues for the rest of the course.

Emotions and Feelings Throughout the Cours

We all believe that maintaining an optimistic mindset is key in executing a successful presentation and project. Thus, as a group we all had similar feelings throughout the course. The first couple weeks we felt anxious and nervous for what was expected of us in this course. The workload appeared to be very heavy, the projects to be mostly group led with little guidance and what was expected of us was quite vague. After meeting with Teya from Vancouver Coastal Health the goal of the project was much more clear as she explained what was expected and how we would go about completing the project including written instructions and due dates. We were then excited about our project and came together as a group to plan the logistics of the project. Moreover, we kept each other motivated and offered positive reinforcement and constructive feedback whenever necessary. During week 4-5 we felt confused about writing the proposal but as we all brainstormed and collaborated, our ideas began to overlap and we became much more confident about our progress. For week 6 we were enthusiastic, but also slightly nervous about interacting with the community, trialing members and presenting the Vancouver Food Asset Map. Nevertheless, we worked as a group to keep each other motivated and shared a wonderful learning experience.


Strategies for Successful Project Completion

In the past week our group trialled at three different Save on Food locations and gathered data from community members on the effectiveness of the Vancouver Food Asset Map. To finish this component of the project, each group will summarize their data descriptively and create charts to easily visualize the results. By analyzing the feedback, we can convey potential improvement options between community members and present these suggestions to Vancouver Coastal Health in hopes to further advance the map for future use. In terms of collecting information for the map, we all need to continue our extensive research to increase the quantity of entries added to the map database. Once we have imputed all data and analyzed the results from the trialling events we can begin to make conclusions and move towards finishing our paper and creating a meaningful presentation. To be successful in the completion of this project we need to keep lines of communication open, encourage each other to work hard and schedule group meetings in advance. In terms of completing the paper, we will divide the work up into different sections so each person is responsible for a different part and then one member with do the final edit so we have continuity and flow in the paper. For the presentation we can communicate on the computer about how we would like to approach and organize the presentation, and then we will meet as a group to practice delivery so we can feel confident about our presentation.


References

 

Project Proposal + Progress

Project Proposal

View our Vancouver Food Asset Map: Food Production project proposal here: Project Proposal – Group 11


Weekly Achievements – Upon Reflection

Week 3:

  • Established a communication and work forum where all group members can talk and contribute to work from their respective locations
  • Met with our community partner and discussed the project details
  • Assigned roles to our team members and divided tasks equally among the group (by food production category e.g. urban farms, orchards, etc.)
  • Successfully completed and posted our first blog post

Week 4 – 5:

  • Completed project proposal draft and received feedback from our TA (Francisco) and professor (Will)

Week 5:

  • Completed and finalized our proposal, incorporating Francisco’s and Will’s feedback
  • Started our data collection and research on local food production assets in Vancouver

Week 6:

  • Scheduled and confirmed the times and locations of three map trialling events

Weekly Objectives – Moving Forward

Week 7:

  • Update existing food asset information if information is missing or no longer correct on the excel data sheet
  • Data collection week! Members of the group to strive to collect a large amount of data by internet browsing, phone calls, emailing and in person visits – upload data to the excel sheet

Week 8:

  • Trial the map at 3 Save on Food locations
  • Work on and submit 3rd group blog post

Week 9:

  • Data collection week! Upload to excel file
  • Reflect on collection methods and ways to improve
  • Assess map trial feedback from the community by summarizing the data and analyzing it

Week 10:

  • Collect any last data. Review excel submissions and ensure everything is in order
  • Start to analyze the results
  • Group meeting to prepare action plan for presentation, infographic and final paper

Week 11:

  • Analyze the data and begin to write up results
  • Group meeting to prepare for upcoming deliverables

Week 12:

  • Last blog post and reflections
  • Present to our peers the successes of our project, the results, what we have learned from the project and how we will move forward in the future
  • Present the infographic

Week 13:

  • Submit group final paper

Strategies for Achieving Our Objectives 

  • Communicate regularly with group members through email and WhatsApp to ensure tasks are completed on time
  • Contact our community partner, Teya Stephens, if we have any questions or concerns with the project and to stay updated with project information
  • Meet up each week to discuss and work on our project as a group to ensure that the project is progressing smoothly

Moment of Significance: Writing the Proposal

What?

Exactly what the Vancouver Food Asset Map project entailed was brought into perspective through our proposal report. Before we could explain to others what we were doing in the proposal, we had to figure it out for ourselves. Our group brainstormed and made up a rough proposal draft, but it was somewhat confusing for us; if an ‘outsider’ were to read it, we felt like they would not understand the exact purpose of the project or how we were planning to complete it. There was definitely uncertainty and lack of clarity in project goals/objectives and research questions during the initial stages of the writing the proposal.

So What?

We had to seek out help from our professor and TA to clear up uncertainties we had about the proposal which in turn also helped us put a clear focus on the proposal and the project itself. During our meeting with the professor, we also learned the techniques to searching for new food assets such as the effectiveness of calling versus emailing an organization when contacting them. From this new information we could split up the remaining work and set up reasonable goals for what we will accomplish for this project.

Now What?

By inquiring about the proposal writing process and making changes accordingly, we feel that we were able to clarify our goals for the project. We were also able to establish well-defined research questions to help provide direct for our research. Through what we’ve learned these past few weeks, we feel better prepared for future assignments. We intend to continue communicating and meeting with our project supervisors throughout the term to minimize uncertainties/misunderstandings and for support in achieving our project goals.

Beginnings

About Us

Ryah Rondolo
3rd Year, Global Resource Systems
Interests: sustainable agriculture, international development, travelling, playing piano and guitar
Reasons for Choosing this Project: I’m interested in learning more about the local food production systems in Vancouver and the benefits they provide to our community. I think the Food Asset Map is a great way to share this information with others.

Leanne Perrich
3rd Year, Food, Nutrition, and Health
Interests: anything food related – nutrition, cooking, baking etc., being outdoors, generally being active, and reading
Reasons for Choosing this Project: I am excited to work in the community and on on the continuing development of the food asset map. I believe it will be a good tool for the public, especially those suffering from food insecurity to see the options they have within the community. I have a keen interest in food security after volunteering at the food bank and seeing how many people (singles, families, and couples) use and desperately need this service.

Chantel Chizen
3rd Year, Applied Biology (Plant and Soil Science)
Interests: skiing, hiking, gardening, listening to music, cooking, baking, and agriculture
Reasons for Choosing this Project: I am excited to be apart of this project because I believe that working with the community and developing a resource for accessing food from urban farms and community gardens will be an excellent experience. By creating a map of food production assets within the city I hope that we can help raise awareness of the available programs.

Carla Hick
Applied Biology (Food and the Environment)
Interests: skiing, kayaking, badminton, yoga, bowling, hiking, arts & crafts, travelling, culinary arts, sustainable agriculture, permaculture and seed saving
Reasons for Choosing this Project: I chose this project because I am very interested in growing food locally, reducing our food production footprint and making good food available to more people. I am quite excited to discover more food production operations in the city of Vancouver, to network and discover employment and volunteer opportunities for myself.

Sarena Sidhu
3rd Year, Food, Nutrition, and Health
Interests: Cooking and baking using plant-based foods, agriculture, sustainability, hiking, biking and snowboarding.
Reasons for Choosing this Project: Food insecurity is a global issue affecting many individuals and populations. I believe the first step in combating food insecurity on a global scale, is by addressing it in our own community. The Food Asset Map is an extremely valuable tool in connecting people who experience food insecurity with outlets that may provide relief. I believe the Asset Map is also a great tool to get all members of the community involved in local foods, educational workshops and community gardens.

Gunique Gill
3rd Year, Food, Nutrition, and Health
Interests: gardening, plant-based cooking and baking, travelling, Mother Nature
Reasons for Choosing this Project: I believe that food is medicine and our purpose in life is to eat. Moreover, I think it is important to know where our food comes from and how to grow it. I would like to see more societal contribution towards locally sourced foods, sustainable practices and making food more available.


Group Interests, Goals, and What We Wish to Gain from this Project

In our participation with this project we are all looking forward to engaging with community members and organizations. Through contributing to the map we will be working within the community, for the community. We have found that through this course we will be offered an experience were we can participate in creating connections in the community and promote community growth in regards our local food system.

Over the course of this term we will strive to strengthen our teamwork and communication skills. For instance, through investigating food production assets we can practice professional communication as we interact with local businesses and conduct trials of the map. By receiving feedback from community members after they have trialed the map we will be able to utilize the valuable perspectives shared with us and be able to build on their comments to enhance the existing food asset map.

Additionally, we hope to advance our own knowledge in regards to food production in Vancouver. By learning about the programs offered we will be able to take away information that we can benefit from in the future such as navigation of the city, food issues, and further community involvement opportunities.


Background on our Community Organization and Project

The Vancouver Food Asset Map is a project embarked on by Vancouver Coastal Health. Their main objectives are to provide care and health to communities while encouraging sustainability. This project is also supported by several community partners such as the City of Vancouver, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Fresh Roots, and UBC.

The Food Map is a living resource to help community members connect with local organizations or public spaces that offer food assets within Vancouver. Through community partners and students such as ourselves the map is updated with new information. The 5 food asset categories represented in the map are:

  1. Free or Subsidized Grocery Items
  2. Free or Low Cost Meals
  3. Grocery Stores, Small Retail, or Markets
  4. Kitchens or Food Programs
  5. Growing Food (Food Production)

Our group will be focused on contributing to the current information on the food production category of assets. Past groups of students from LFS 350 and other contributors to the map have established several food production related assets and we will be working towards updating the information of current assets and finding new ones. Below is an example of the various food production assets within Vancouver that are currently posted on the Food Asset Map. To  learn more about the food assets offered in the City you can view the map here: Vancouver Food Asset Map

(Vancouver Coastal Health)


Project Objectives

Contribute to the 3 goals of the Vancouver Food Asset Map:

  1. To provide a tool to community members and agencies for locating community food assets that is current, dynamic, and easy to use
  2. To build capacity and support food access for community members dealing with food insecurity
  3. To make it easier for Vancouver community partners to view and utilize community food assets strategically

(Vancouver Coastal Health)

Another objective is for us to seek information regarding community gardens and orchards, urban farms, garden programs, and educational workshops relating to food production. We will obtain, update, and summarize data on the food production options within Vancouver which will then be reflected on the Vancouver Food Asset Map.


First Impressions

Based on what we have learned in class and from the readings it is apparent that there is miscommunication, inequality, and various other unresolved issues in community food systems across the world. Problems that have arisen within food systems will progress so long as we do not refocus our ability to see food justice and accept the multidisciplinarity of the food system (Dixon, 2014).

Cities used to build around the availability of food which would inherently place a high value on the food source. However, in our society today, we have become more accustomed to buying foods from corporate grocers as compared to harvesting our own crops or accessing local foods. As a result the value and significance of food sources has declined. Within the majority of developed societies, it seems as if we are less connected to our food production. This then results in room for awareness, development, and innovation in how we grow food and how it reaches community members. Fortunately though, current efforts such as urban farms, community gardens, and educational are available within Vancouver. With these alternative practices we are not only able to deviate from the industry-style of food production but we can strive to address food justice issues within the food system (Allen, 2008). However, this can only be achieved if we ensure equality rather than serving just a privileged demographic, which may not even be intentional (Allen, 2008). By simultaneously being aware of ecological, social, and political issues in regards to food production we can positively contribute to the food system.

As said above there is opportunity for development in the food system and by using Asset-Based Community Development initiatives we can work together to put value back on precious food as well as put more value back into community dynamics. The Vancouver Food Asset Map project requires us to use an asset-based approach where we focus on what resources we already have in Vancouver to find solutions to community problems. While we are not solving poverty with this project, we are helping individuals to connect with available resources in order to provide relief and hopefully alleviate hunger.

In addressing problems in our community as students, it is crucial to come down from the ‘ivory tower’, and interact with community members. The extensive knowledge and experience of community members are valuable assets that must not be neglected (Mathie & Cunningham, 2003). Rather than a top-down approach, we should instead adopt a partnership mentality. This helps us acknowledge and better appreciate community assets that can be utilized in achieving community objectives together. Ultimately, helping someone starts with listening to them. It is foolish to suggest solutions to people’s problems without first understanding the community context, their needs and wants, or if they even want our help at all. We should listen first before taking action (Sirolli, 2012). This strategy helps us develop and implement appropriate solutions and foster stronger relationships between all parties.

Very rarely do we get to work on community projects as part of an academic course. We are looking forward to this LFS 350 project and to have the opportunity to work alongside a community organization such as Vancouver Coastal Health. After learning more about the Vancouver Food Asset Map we are impressed with all that it has to offer and what is currently published.

Within in our group, personal experiences have allowed us to further connect to this project. Some of us have recently moved to Vancouver and by working on this food asset map we will be able to find what food production and other food asset resource are available to us as we navigate through the city. In regards to food production, we have diverse experiences, from growing up on a farm to having a strong interest in gardening, which motivate us in connecting community members with food and finding educational opportunities that can help individuals learn more about how food is grown.

In the past 3 weeks of this course we have been able to learn that through effective listening, working alongside community members, and teamwork we can make positive leaps and bounds towards sustainable communities. Social, economic and environmental sustainability within communities are ones that have food justice, sovereignty and security, where no one is left behind and resources are shared fairly. What we are hoping to achieve is an ideal food system that benefits all community members equally. As a society we will very likely face challenges in trying to resolve food system issues but there is hope that the action taken and awareness raised will drive us in the right direction towards a more sustainable food system for all.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

– Les Brown


References