Monthly Archives: February 2017

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:

Harford, T. (2016). Ted Talks. How messy problems can inspire creativity. Received from: