Whats Growing On? 

As this course and this project are coming to an end, it is time to reflect on our most significant moment and appreciate the hard work and dedication that we all contributed to this cumulative project.

Plots with newly planted seeds and previously existing crops.

Final Updates on the Roof Top Garden  

  • The rooftop garden will end up contributing to the food hub produce market, as do the urban farms at present moment
  • They are also hoping to sell produce via the produce carts and continue to bring the produce into the community lunches
  • We’ve planted about 10 planters worth, with some more that already had produce. We planted carrots, radishes, lettuce and corn salad today.
  • Joey is using the crop map we gave her as well as the companion planting recommendations, she also explicitly thanked us for the help with the business license
  • The farm is getting to a place where it will be able to take care of itself come the late spring season


Picked March 31st: Kale, Sorrel, Carrots, and Thyme


After much contemplation, we have come to the conclusion that the most significant moment in this project was seeing seedlings come up after a week of sowing the seeds. It was a symbolization of our hard work, and it was amazing to have been able to see some results before our departure. Throughout our project, while working on the crop plan and researching about companion planning, going to the rooftop garden was a small escape for us. Being able to connect and be a part of something that we have been so disconnected to,  is very rewarding. Moreover, learning about new crops is even more enchanting. For example, some of us never knew about sorrel, yet sorrel is a citrusy and delicious vegetable that is perfect for salads, and yet it grows like a weed. Who knew that a “weed” could taste so delicious?

So what

After seeing the new seedlings, we appreciate more of how we grow food and how much care is needed for growing crops. Now community members of Gordon Neighbourhood House have more access to food, thus, becoming more food secure. We also learned about how a community garden is managed and sustained. We also realized that numerous steps are taken before the goal can be reached. Moving on from this, we hope to be able to contribute to more urban farming sites.

Now what

Now that we have the community garden started for the year, the community member will have access to the rooftop garden and the food in the rest of the spring, summer and later into the fall. We gained many skills in organization, leadership, teamwork, and most importantly, urban farming. We have learned a lot during our discussion about food security and community lunches. Our community partner believes that food brings the community together [1]. People are happier after they helped out with the community garden and had food at the community lunches [1]. They like to hang out with the other people who come to help as volunteers, as well as us the LFS 350 students [1].

“The urban farm … contributes to a greater sense of purpose and community, for so many people being able to afford fresh, local, organic produce is a major luxury, even though it shouldn’t be.” [2]


Sarah, Zara and Joey planting seeds

Reflection After Friday March 31st 

Spending time working with Joey and some volunteers at the rooftop garden has really opened our eyes to true interconnectedness of food security. While growing some produce at an urban farm doesn’t have the capacity to end food insecurity, the activity feeds into the bigger picture and reminds us where our roots need to be. As Joey told us today, “The urban farm provides produce for the GNH programs, but it also contributes to a greater sense of purpose and community, for so many people being able to afford fresh, local, organic produce is a major luxury. Even though it shouldn’t be” [2]. At our final visit at the rooftop garden, we talked about how food is what brings people together, its universality helps us make connections across socio-economic statuses, cultures and even just as people. We also talked about how, because food is so universal, it helps us to identify when people are being left out of the movement. If certain people aren’t coming to community lunches, or aren’t able to volunteer at the farms; it’s likely for a really good reason. Maybe they don’t feel welcome, or they don’t have the time. Growing produce and preparing it, putting it on the table, is one, really amazing thing. But making sure people feel welcome to come to the table, share their experiences and feel the warmth of one another, is a whole other, incredibly aspect of what GNH is doing. We really feel incredibly lucky to have been a small part of their movement.


In conclusion, we all truly appreciate the opportunity given to us to work with our community partner Joey and with Gordon Neighbourhood House. From the start of the project, it appeared that being a group from diverse studies and backgrounds really helped us create a multidisciplinary lens in which to implement ideas. We focused on each of our diverse strengths and together we generated so much more than we could have alone (Phillips, 2014).

We wish Joey and Gordon Neighbourhood House the best, and for many fruitful harvests’ to come.

Left: Sarah, Serafina, Jin, Zara and Faye


[1] Liu, J. personal communication, March 17th, 2017

[2] Liu, J. personal communication, March 31st, 2017

Phillips, K. W. (2014). How Diversity Makes Us Smarter. Retrieved March 30, 2017 from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/

Strategies for a Graceful Dismount

Updates from Friday March 3rd at the Rooftop Garden:

Before gardening at the rooftop garden, we met with Joey at GNH. She was pleased with the garden map and gave us some good feedback regarding how to move forward, and what to do with the crop planning map.

While gardening we discussed the farm sites. She revealed that two sites, including the rooftop garden receive more sun, the other two sites are get less sun. Therefore a goal for these two sites, is to research and get asian greens growing, as well as other greens.


  • Weed-ing at the rooftop garden.
  • Completed some companion crop research for Joey.
  • Completed seed inventory for GNH, helped to organize current seed stock.


  • Complete the crop planning map, so we can help implement it as soon as possible. 
  • Provide Joey with the companion planting information so that she can set up which goes where in terms of the boxes on the rooftop garden: she wants a list of the companion plants for the rooftop garden. ie: Tomatoes and Basil
  • Joey also asked us if we could look into flowers which could be useful in the rooftop garden, ones that attract beneficial insects and pollinators. As well as, flowers that are native to BC, and detract the pests we don’t want. We have to keep in mind and avoid flowers that spread a lot, as they will affect the ability to grow food.
  • Review the west coast seeds inventory, so that Joey knows what they have available:

Update from Monday March 6th:

One of us met with Joey to help her with a Flyer for the garden volunteer meeting. The goal was to have as many flyers out before the meeting to generate more interest. The meeting is to take place Thursday March 16th at 1:30pm for all those interested in regular involvement with the community gardens! Joey and I collaborated to make the flyer that would be put around GNH and nearby community centres.

Objective and Achievement: To create and finish the flyer by March 8th which was achieved 

Come Grow With Us – Flyer

 Updates from Friday March 10th:

Two of us were able to meet Joey at the Rooftop garden today!


  • We weeded many of the plots that currently contain healthy growing garlic and leeks.
  • Cleaned up  some of the harder plots before the corporate volunteer group comes in Tuesday 14th.
  • Completed the up to date current (as of March 10th) crop growing at the Rooftop garden (below) Deadline was set for March 14th.

Upcoming Objectives & To- Do’s

  • Continue working on the Crop plan excel sheet, using a timeline, and colour codes.
  • Continue researching on Companion Planting
  • Weekly gardening at the Rooftop garden Friday’s 1:45-4pm
  • Check in with Will about soil testing and get back to Joey. She was excited about the possibility of this, and is curious of the scope.

Freshly picked greens including Sorrel, Kale, and Arugula

Significant Moments

Our graph that we created in tutorial


In the last few weeks, we have visited the rooftop garden multiple times, and each visit has markedly brought direction, but also motivation and change. As per our last blog entry, we discussed how our first visit to the rooftop garden was a profound moment for our group. This has continued to be a theme, as each visit leaves us feeling refreshed and enthusiastic. These sessions with Joey are significant milestones for us as they serve as a reminder of why we are here, why we chose this project, and how we can use our skills to bring something worthwhile to the community.

So What

As you can see from our graphs, our collective uncertainty peaked substantially around the proposal’s due date but decreased as we started visiting the garden. Initially, the objectives of our project were not clearly defined, we had a general idea of what direction we were going in, but our project as a whole was still relatively nebulous. We think it is so important to note that our moments of significant change, as well as a decrease in uncertainty, revolved around visiting the garden. It is also important to note that uncertainty for us isn’t defined by whether or not we have a clear course, but rather how much trust we have in the process. This idea has been a huge learning curve for us. To know that uncertainty isn’t whether or not we are aware the definitive answer, but through collaboration and creativity, we will find an answer.

We know that our project will likely change to some degree and that the next few weeks will bring unexpected roadblocks. We welcome the oscillations in emotion and knowledge (as represented in our graphs) as according to Shuman (2005), this is where growth happens. We also welcome the areas of uncertainty and anxiety going forward, as we have learned that these times are quickly followed by resolution and clarity (LFS 350 Session 7 Notes, 2017).

Now what

As we have become increasingly more comfortable with uncertainty, our next focus is to remain mindful of our direction and “scope”. We recognize that the objectives of our group and our community partner may polarize and this deviation is part of the beauty of interdisciplinary teams. However, we are bounded by many constraints as students and working within this scope will be paramount to our success (LFS 350 Session 7 Notes, 2017).

We understand that keeping lines of communication open with each other and with our community partner is essential for maintaining our scope. We will use our graphs to record our emotions/skills and knowledge through this next phase. Any significant decrease from “baseline” will warrant a conversation with each other or Joey and will give us an opportunity to reflect on our progress and either continue to move forward or re-evaluate our current projection.


Our group’s strategy for successful project completion is unique because we are continuously adapting and building up for this project. Our initial project with Joey was to create a site map (as outlined in our proposal), however, we have completed this, and are moving onto different projects to further the productivity and efficiency of the rooftop garden (i.e. working on a crop planning map, and companion planting research). Hence, to stay on track and to ensure successful project completion, we are aiming for constant communication between group members and checking in with each other on progress and deadlines. We are also aware that all of us will be very busy at the end of March and we will try our best to plan and manage our times wisely. Our goal from the start of this project is to assist Joey with urban farming activities at GNH, primarily with the rooftop garden. We, as a group, agree that we have stayed true to our goal and are still continuing towards this goal. Therefore, as long as we stay true to our goal and stick to constant communication, we can strive for a successful completion of our project.



LFS 350 Session 7 Notes. (2016). Uncertainty in the Learning Environment. Retrieved on March 9th, from http://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:LFS350/Week_08

Shulman, L. S. (2005). Pedagogies of uncertainty. Liberal Education, 91(2), 18–25. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ697350.pdf


Making Progress at the Rooftop Garden

Over the last few weeks, we have been able to channel our excitement towards working with Gordon Neighbourhood House into project planning and site visits. Speaking with Joey, the farmer, about how we contribute to her work really helped get the ball rolling for us; especially while we were working on our project proposal. It has been 6 weeks since we began this project, and, although we had a slow start, our group really feels as though we’ve been able to make progress and we are looking forward to the next 4 weeks.

Satellite image of the rooftop garden.

Project Proposal:

Our proposal is an outline of the project we hope to work on with Joey at GNH. The proposal document details the objectives of our project, the significance of the project and the methods we are going to employ. Writing the proposal was very helpful in getting our thoughts organized into a tangible plan which will guide is as we move forward. We were very fortunate to have open communication with Joey during our process, as she was a very helpful guide in our work.

To view our full proposal, please follow this link: Urban Farm Hands Project Proposal

Weekly Objectives:

Coming out of our initial meeting with Joey at GNH we thought our primary objectives were quite simple: visit the GNH community gardens once a week, visit the Rooftop garden, start to design our site map and develop an understanding of our role in the GNH urban farm. In practice, we underestimated the impacts of external factors on our ability to progress. Initially, we had a somewhat difficult time putting these goals into action; from issues with the cold weather to organizing a time for all of Joey and us to visit the space, achieving our weekly goals proved to be a challenge. 

On February 17, two of our group members had their first visit to the rooftop garden. We took detailed notes of the crops that were remaining from last year, the dimensions of the raised beds and any general topographical information we needed to design a site map. This information was sufficient to create a first draft of the site map that will be used for a business license proposal.


The first draft of the site plan for the rooftop garden.


Upcoming Objectives:

Moving forward, we feel as though this initial visit has got the ball rolling for our project. We were enthralled with the rooftop space – it was more than we could have imagined. Having completed the first draft of our site map, we are motivated to stay up to date with its development. Our objectives for the next few weeks are as follows:

  • Continuing to have at least 2 members visit the site weekly for observations and to assist in gardening work
  • Research rooftop garden crop arrangements, companion planting to inform our development of a crop map.
  • Observe and record the conditions of the rooftop garden during our weekly visits n order to provide Joey with the information she needs to maximize yield
  • Develop a first draft of the crop map, for the larger goal of developing a crop map that is both productive and aligns with produce goals of GNH

Strategies for Achieving our Objectives:

Here are our strategies as follows:

  • Maintain communication strategies within the group as per our original contract
    • This means sticking to our availability that has been scheduled and giving our group ample notice if we can no longer make a prior commitment
  • Diligently make notes from the site each time a member visits GNH and post our experience to our Google Doc
    • We can stay up to date on the progress development of the site
  • Weekly research on companion planting once GNH has decided what will be planted in the rooftop garden
  • Have the first draft of the crop map completed by the end of next week (March 4th, 2017)

Most Significant Moment:

As mentioned above, due to weather conditions, we have not been fortunate enough to visit the farm as soon as we have hoped for, however, once we have had the chance to visit the farm, we would say that it has been the most significant moment that has occurred so far within this course. It was incredible up there, the space had a lot to offer, and we are very excited about the possibility it holds for Gordon Neighbourhood House. Some crops were even growing on the rooftop garden from the previous season, which was surprising considering the unexpectedly cold winter we’ve had, and the fact that the garden hasn’t been intentionally kept. Some of the plants growing include sorrel, kale, and swiss chard. As mentioned before, most of us have little to no experience about farming, but we are all passionate and enthusiastic. Being able to see/hear about the rooftop personally for ourselves definitely furthered our excitement for this project.

So, what now after being able to see the rooftop garden?

By mapping out the space, Joey can use it to apply for the permit. By creating a second more detailed crop map,  Joey and community members can have an easy guide to what there is and where to find it. So, we took measurements of the space; and started planning on what to plant for each plot. Joey wanted us to do two maps, one for business partnership another one for planting.

And, now what?

We are now currently in the process of planning the layout, and hopefully, start planting within the next weeks. Our goal now is to try our best to follow our weekly and upcoming objectives. Reflecting back to the beginning of our project we had a lot of great and grand ideas. Most of which would be hard to execute within our given timeframe. By listening to the community partners needs, we are better able to contribute to the Gordon Neighborhood House.

Reflection about our Course Readings:

Something that was hard to come to terms with, was the fact that we were slightly unsure of how we could effectively and efficiently aid in helping the gardens in the different locations of Gordon Neighborhood Houses. After listening to the podcast, Failure is Your Friend, we could have benefited from brainstorming some of the ways that this project could go wrong or be unsuccessful (Cohn, 2015). By forseeing these issues,  we could come up with ways of how we can prevent them from happening and what can be done to fix them if it does happen. This also could have helped us get everyone more motivated to succeed, and share their thoughts. I think we can relate to and find reassurance from the message of Tim Harford’s Ted Talk, in which he shared the possibility of increased creativity and outcomes when things gets “messy” (2016).  In the sense that not having a concrete plan, is alright, and it might even result in more creative solutions.


Cohn, G. (Producer). (2015, May 20). A Freakonomics Radio Rebroadcast. Failure Is Your Friend. Retrieved from: http://freakonomics.com/podcast/failure-is-your-friend-a-freakonomics-radio-rebroadcast/

Harford, T. (2016). Ted Talks. How messy problems can inspire creativity. Received from: http://lfs350.landfood.ubc.ca/session-notes/term-1-session-notes/session-4/





Before we start introducing ourselves, we would like to ask our readers a question. In a scenario where food sovereignty is in jeopardy, could urban farming be the answer to this problem? Even though the city of Vancouver has an abundance of food, food seems to be merely a business model, and the growing and distribution of food lack community involvement. As a group, this is the reason why we want to contribute to this project because we are all passionate about food and about sustainable food practices for growing enough food for the years to come.

We are a group of five students from the University of British Columbia studying various majors in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. This semester, through the course LFS 350, we will be working in collaboration with the Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH) specifically with their urban farm locations and rooftop garden. We are very excited to get started on our project and to be able to share the experience with members of our community and beyond.

The group outside Gordon Neighbourhood House in the West End. From left to right: Sarah, Serafina, Jin, Zara, Faye

As the majority of us have limited experience with urban farming, we chose this project to gain more insight into what urban farming is, how it is done and the impact it has for communities. We were also drawn to this project by the potential of working with Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH); as their food centred model is one we have heard about in other courses, or through our own research, and we are all interested in learning more, as well as being a small part of the amazing work they are doing.



Zara Neukom

Major: Food, Nutrition, and Health

 I am a passionate food citizen, avid whole foods junkie, and aspiring Naturopathic physician. Through my degree, I have come to understand the importance of food as the centre of the wellness continuum. For me, nutrition and diet goes beyond the self, and mingles with the interface of food production, access, and extends as far as the global food system. The dogma of nutrition has often been defined by what one puts into his/her own body but I believe that that definition must be expanded. If we are conscious of where our food comes from, how it has been produced, and the stakeholders that are involved first, then it will indirectly be better for our bodies, minds and spirits. I am so excited to be working on this project with the Gordon Neighbourhood House, where an urban farm is the epicentre of collaboration, community and food-based learning. Through this project, I hope to gain valuable insight on the workings of an urban farm, for I believe utilizing urban spaces to grow nutritious food in a sustainable manner, will be paramount for the future of our food system.

Sarah Mackenzie

Major: Global Resource Systems

I am interested in community based development and how the food system weaves its way through so many aspects of our lives. As a previous economics student, I was constantly challenged personally by the disconnect between economic theory, actual communities and the people who belong to them. By studying Global Resource Systems I hope to develop my ability to learn from a variety of different situations, circumstances and people; and broaden my views on the world around me. By participating in this project I hope to gain practical experience and knowledge on Urban Farming, and be able to work alongside the Gordon Neighbourhood House in order to help them to achieve their goals.

Faye Li

Major: Food, Nutrition and Health

I am most driven whenever I am given the opportunity to help. My goal is to be involved with an international non-profit organization and contribute my knowledge in aiding our global food crisis. I believe that to solve our current food crisis; everyone should know a little bit about urban farming, which is why I chose to work with Gordon Neighbourhood House. I believe that urban agriculture combined with the help of community can be beneficial for food sustainability and accessibility. Through this project, I hope to gain useful knowledge about urban farming. My goal will be to start a small garden on my porch and start my journey in becoming more food literate and incorporating sustainable food production into my daily life.

Serafina Liotti

Major: Food, Nutrition, and Health

I am really passionate about food security, the environment, and becoming a better food citizen. What initially drew me to Gordon Neighbourhood House, is that it is oriented around food, and that it hosts one of the only, “food hubs” in Vancouver. Along with being a location for weekly Food Bank bags, the ‘hub,” gives people the opportunity to access nutritious food that they can afford, in a more dignified manner. I am excited to be able to contribute to the GNH gardens, and food hub, in a meaningful way. I hope to gain insight through listening to the farmer, and the community that we will engage with, as well as acquire some transferable farming skills. In my quest to becoming a better food citizen, one of my goals is to grow a vegetable garden this summer. I think this project will highlight the importance of sustainable agriculture, and how urban farming might just pave the way for agriculture in the future.

Jin Wang

Major: Applied Biology specialized in Plant and Soil.

My top interest is plants and agriculture, and that is why I chose this project. I have volunteered at urban farms before, such as UBC farm and Fresh Roots Urban Farm. I believe in food justice and that everyone has the right to have access to nutritious food.

My goal for this project is to help Gordon Neighbourhood House with their urban farms and rooftop garden, and learn more about how the urban farm has shaped the community and  changed food accessibility for the community members. The ultimate goal is to raise awareness surrounding food justice and get excited about growing food locally.

Our Goals & Interests

During our first meeting with Gordon Neighbourhood House Joey, the head farmer and our project leader, asked us to come up with our strengths as a group. We tried to go around the circle and each list a strength, but the process felt forced – it was hard to come up with something on the spot. Instead, we started discussing our interests and it inspired an exciting conversation about our different passions for food and the food system. Before we knew it we were talking about converting rooftops to gardens, ways to make the food system more inclusive and how each of us feel responsible for and connected to the food system in different ways. Together, we share a passion for interacting with the food system and we are all interested in the potential that urban farming holds for generating positive change and growth.

Furthermore, we are excited to explore the interconnectedness of the food system with respect to GNH, especially how urban farming can foster community connections. Joey talked to us about the different elements at play within GNH and we outlined some of the relationships in the graphic below. We discussed the challenges of balancing different elements of food and community; and are looking forward to working with Joey to help her with these challenges.


Project Objectives

  • Assist with urban farming activities on a weekly basis: focusing on the new rooftop garden space.
  • To help with basic and moderate farming tasks across the garden locations.
  • To especially focus on the newly acquired rooftop garden, in terms of maintenance, aesthetics, and community building.
  • To increase relations with the residents of the rooftop garden building, to see how we can better engage the community in the roof top garden.
  • To come up with a visual map of the roof top garden with specific crop locations, doing background research on companion planting, pest control, spacing, sunlight/shade exposure.

About Gordon Neighbourhood House

Gordon Neighbourhood House is a community hub in the West End of Vancouver, BC focused on community connection and development. GNH works with the community to facilitate connection, engagement and collaboration by offering adaptive programs and services which suit the needs of the West End (Gordon Neighbourhood House, 2017). The GNH has been providing free and low cost programs in the West End since 1942, they work closely with members of the community, sister organizations, and policy makers that foster inclusion and equality. One of the things about GNH that stood out for us as a group is the food-centred approach they take with all of their endeavours. They believe that food brings people together, establishing a common ground for people to connect. Their philosophy is built from the idea that food not only nourishes a person physically, but also has the potential to nourish relationships between people.

During our first meeting at GNH it was obvious that their food philosophy is present in everything they do. Looking around we could see the weekly menu for community lunches, handouts for food-based programs and images of their garden and farm spaces. Their food philosophy principles, outlined below, represent a holistic approach that recognizes diversity and opportunities for growth through collaboration. As a group, we are very excited to be working with an organization with such inspired goals, values and principles.

Objectives taken from GordonHouse.org


Our first Impressions of Gordon Neighbourhood House

“As we turned off Comox street and approached GNH, the sunlight streamed through bare branches, a homeless person’s cart was parked on the sidewalk and the quiet chatter of indistinct voices wafted through the open windows. In that moment, it became obvious that GNH is a sanctuary, a garden in the shape of a 75-year-old building, where anyone could come and receive nourishment, love, and care. Any concerns or uncertainties we had surrounding liaising with our community leader disappeared as the quiet, calming energy of GNH surrounded us. And all of a sudden, we were a part of something very special.” – Members of group 14

There is a Cowichan Coast Salish proverb that says Children are regarded as a flower that needs nourishment, love, and care. Think of our children as a garden, they need a place to show their beauty and pride (Gordon Neighbourhood House)This proverb perfectly sums up what we learned about our project at Gordon Neighbourhood House. While chatting with Joey and getting to know more about GNH, we heard that we will be focusing on the rooftop garden. We learned that rooftop gardens are something that we should try and utilize more because it uses spaces that have already been taken up by buildings. By using the space on top of these buildings, we have a lot more surface area for farming, as every building has a roof, and every rooftop is usually unused space. Rooftops are great for urban farming because there is an adequate amount of sunlight for the crops, and on the other hand, artificial shade can also be created. Their rooftop garden already had one growing season, but it is still considered to be a relatively new space. Joey wants us to help her with growing the crops and see what can be done to improve the aesthetics of the farm — which got us thinking — a farm is not only a place to grow food, but it can also be a sanctuary for relaxation and enjoyment. This is where the Salish proverb comes in perfectly. A garden is not just a place for growing food, but a beautiful area to appreciate the food that is being grown from the garden to feed the community. As a community working together to grow beautiful crops, we as a community should also admire the beauty of how a community contributes to the process. 

Joey, was like a breath of fresh air. She slurped on a green smoothie and introduced herself with youthful energy and twinkling eyes. Joey expressed that she has only been with GNH for two weeks, an unforeseen challenge as well as a blessing. As we chatted plans, ideas and what our assignment might entail, it dawned on us that this project will be extraordinarily unique. A blend of academia, deep understanding of farming practices, and a collective passion for community and food-based learning all coming together with mutual respect. Ernesto Sirolli’s (2012) statement, “be a servant of local passion, don’t enter in with an idea, sit and listen” quickly became our manifesto. Listening to Joey’s goals, motives and ideas as well as the needs of the neighborhood we were entrenched in will be paramount as we start to develop our project.

It’s easy to let academic supremacy supersede true ground-up knowledge. Where ways of “knowing” are formed through passion and sweat, instead of through lectures and the traditional collegiate framework. Right now, we are visitors in this community, we have no true authority, nor do we want it. We want to let GNH speak for itself, we want to listen to what the community wants and simply be a conduit for the growth and development of the GNH urban farms. Sometimes the best form of “knowing” comes straight from the community, drawing off local individuals and informal networks (Mathie & Cunnigham, 2003). Further, building off of the “heliotropic principle” whereas in nature, plants grow towards their source of life and energy (Mathie & Cunnigham, 2003). Communities work in the same way, and we want to acknowledge the GNH urban farm as an influential community asset and help maintain its status as a source of life and energy for the West End.

This initial encounter has left us thinking a lot about the manifestation of “aid”. Sirolli (2012) believes aid = mutual respect . The Asset Based Community Development approach to aid is about building community and sustainable livelihoods (Mathie & Cunnigham, 2003). How empowering to abolish the patriarchal notion that a community “needs” us. Instead we can build a bottom up relationship based on respect. We have little to offer but time, energy, some experience, and a love of food. So perhaps the true “growing” will be on our end and GNH will be our literal as well as proverbial garden for the next 3 months.


As we’ve discussed, our group is relatively new to the idea of Urban Farming, and very excited about working on this project. The links below are various videos, articles and websites we’ve been looking at over the past few weeks. With each blog post we hope to post about some of the things which we have been using as inspiration/research for our journey!

Brian Clark Howard. “Urban Farming is Growing a Green Future” National Geographic

A photo essay about the role of urban farming in our complex food system.


Britta Riley. “A garden in my apartment”. TedxManhattan

In her ted talk, Britta Riley introduces how she used old plastic bottles to create a  technology which allowed her to grow food in her home.


Vancouver Urban Farming Society Webpage

The Vancouver Urban Farmers Association web page has resources for urban farming, info on local events, policy updates and more!


The Asset Based Community Development Institute

This website has everything you need to know about asset based community development.



Gordon Neighbourhood House. Retrieved January 27, 17, from http://gordonhouse.org/about-gordon-neighbourhood-house/mandate-vision/

Sirolli, E. (2012, September). Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen

Mathie, A., & Cunningham, G. (2003). From clients to citizens: Asset-based   Community Development as a strategy for community-driven development.Development in Practice, 13(5), 474-486. doi:10.1080/0961452032000125857