Grafting a scion to a tree is not a process that occurs naturally, nor is it free from risk or complication. Like an unsuccessful graft, our project has felt unnatural and our progress has been far from straightforward. That said, this project has given us a chance to display some resilience and overcome some daunting challenges. Emerging from adversity, our new project direction has us heading toward a successful outcome and an exciting conclusion to the course.
Our path to this point has been an interesting one, to say the least. Our weekly achievements offer a glimpse into how we got here and are summarized below:
|Jan. 29-Feb. 4th||Connect with potential community partners
(Vancouver Fruit Tree Project, Douglas Justice & David Tracey)
|– Amy & Marika met with David Tracey on Feb. 3rd
– Gained expert insight on the challenges & difficulties of grafting
– Received recommendation to connect with the Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA)
|Feb 5th-11th||Refine project focus and target population||– Concluded that working with schools would be the best route to 1) create impactful change and 2) ensure project sustainability|
|Secure a community partner||– Michael met with Douglas Justice on Feb 13th
– Received further insight on the challenges & difficulties of grafting
– Opened to the possibility of evolving our project focus
– Reached out to the Grandview Woodland Food Connection (GWFC)
|Secure a community partner, evolve project focus based around their goals & insights||– Amy, Belle & Marika met with Ian Marcuse from GWFC on Feb. 20th
– Gained even more insight through listening to the ideas of a local leader in the food justice movement
– Were given the opportunity to choose from a multitude of interesting and impactful project ideas
– Secured an AWESOME community partner
– Unanimously agreed to choose a project that was achievable, exciting and quite relevant to our proposal content & research
Despite our best efforts to communicate our project ideas to our initial community partner prospect, the EYA, our progress ground to a halt. The main problem was that their Growing Kids program is no longer running. This program was aimed at establishing school gardens in inner city schools to connect students and teachers with growing their own food. In our minds it was the perfect foundational social network in which to introduce grafting and to engage students. A secondary problem arose from our conversations with grafting experts who warned us about the complexities and seasonality requirements involved with grafting. Unable to find a community partner with the interest, skill set or garden based food production presence to support a grafting project, we were once again searching for a community partner and a project to focus on.
This was a huge blow to our project as the community partner had been intended to play a large role in connecting us with stakeholders and in guiding the focus of our project. We now faced the prospect of starting from scratch, 7 weeks behind the other groups. Much of the research we had done, the proposal (attached) we had written and the plans we had made for our final presentation and infographic will need a dramatic overhaul or be discarded entirely. What our efforts did generate, was an interest in pursuing a project in the school environment which led us to reach out to the GWFC.
Moving forward, we need to recognize that this is exactly the sort of
uncertainty and test of resilience that was forecast by the course syllabus. Certainly, we will need to develop our new plan quickly and work with unrelenting time-efficiency for the rest of the semester, but we believe that we can build something worth presenting in March. As described by Tim Hardford, it is challenging circumstances that can sometimes make for the best outcomes (Hardford, 2015). He argues that a bit of chaos improves problem solving because it eliminating marginal gains in a single direction and instead creates larger gains, more diffuse in focus.
True to the Hardford formula, after exploring grafting projects in depth we’ve now pivoted to pursue a garden transformation project, having already identified what appears to be a suitable replacement for our community partner in the GWFC. The exact nature of our project is uncertain, but it looks to revolve around assessing the feasibility of installing a food garden in front of the Teen Center.
Strategies Moving Forward
One interesting aspect of this community partner is that there are two stakeholder groups: our contact is the Community Food Developer who coordinates activities; the target audience is the students who are reportedly facing food justice issues and who will actually use and benefit from this project. We agree with Mr. Sirolli’s stance that an effective project ensures that the end users are consulted and engaged in this project (Sirolli, 2012). We also recognize that improving food justice with this project will require us to first gain an understanding of how these teens engage with their food environment and if/how they want to engage with a food garden (McCullum & Desjardins, 2005). Therefore, a focus for our group will be to speak directly with the teens who will benefit from this project to ensure that any garden project will align with their vision for the space. As Mr. Sirolli points out, asking the users what they want is the best way to ensure they’re engaged and excited about the project.
In week +1-3 of our weekly objective chart below, we talk about getting specific about the nature of our deliverables. McCullum & Desjardins delineate 3 stages of food security projects which will help guide us as we evaluate the situation (McCullum & Desjardins, 2005). Given our timeline, it may not be possible to secure the permissions to initiate and complete a stage 2 food security activity like a food garden. We may instead choose to complete a stage 1 activity like an educational program or a data collection initiative, laying the foundation for a future group to continue with stage 2.
- Week +1-3: Define our new project with the GWFC. In consultation with the GWFC, connect with the teen staff of the Teen Center to identify what they want to get out of the project and get specific about the nature of our deliverables.
- Week +4: Finalize a draft of our report, presentation and infographic
- Week +5: Deliver presentation and infographic
- Week +6: Deliver report
Hardford, T. (2015). How frustration can make us more creative. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_harford_how_messy_problems_can_inspire_creativity
Sirolli, E. (2012). Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen
McCullum, C., Desjardins, E., Kraak, V. I., Ladipo, P., & Costello, H. (2005). Evidence-based strategies to build community food security. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(2), 278-283. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2004.12.015