EGP Wiki: The EGP Story

 This wiki was created by and  for the EGP for a strategic planning session in 2010.  The staff and steering committee collectively told the EGP’s origin story in this wiki. It since has found it’s way in the Growth Reports and on their website in different forms.

Welcome to a wiki. “Wiki” means quick in Hawaii and a wiki. A wiki is a fast way to make a web page people can edit together. In this wiki we will begin to build the Edible Garden Project’s story together.

How can I contribute here?

Click on “edit” on the top right of this screen. Move the cursor to where you want to contribute and type. When you’re done (or every 5 minutes just to be safe) click on “Save” (click on edit again, if you want to continue). That’s it- you’ve published to the web! (Just testing – Liz. Ooh! It works!)

Want to get fancy? You can format text (add bold, underline, italic etc), add photos, link to other webpages, add an attachment etc. The icons for all of that are in the editing toolbar.

Troubles? Frustrations? Please ask! It’s always easier to learn something new with someone demonstrating it right beside you. When that’s not possible, a quick phone call is usually all it takes. (Keira’s number is in the email.)

The EGP Story

Once upon a time…

There wasn’t an Edible Garden Project on the North Shore. For real, folks. It kind of makes you shiver with horror doesn’t it? Sure, there were gardeners. There were even clubs for gardeners. There was even some food being grown on the north shore- but secretly, glimpsed only from the back lanes and not really talked about much in polite society.

But when the EGP came on the scene things started to change. It looked modest enough from the beginning. A little food being grown here and there and shared out to folks who needed it most. But the ground was being mulched and the soil was growing richer and deeper, ready to support more life. Wise Ones gathered to steer, advise, reflect and above all learn. Once they got rolling, they chose Heather to lead and she lead she did: through direct action on the ground and by pulling way back to the eagle eye view to share the stories, the needs and the possibilities with all who would listen. Partners, and politicians took note. She whirled around like a wizard and what she touched and tended, grew.

People started to shake it out: food gardens popped up on boulevards, folks shared their backyards, spent time learning how and then started showing up to garden together. TV viewing dropped precipitously on the North Shore. Ratings companies were baffled.

“What’s your name?” An innocent enough question but it turned out that volunteers wanting to know each others name when they gardened together was a tipping point. People started really talking, sharing ideas, getting excited. How about a community orchard? How about bee hives in the schoolyards? Why not food at the garden in front of the library? What about a new community garden? What about elders teaching young families their secret garden tricks? Why not a garden in that decrepit corner of our townhouse complex? What about flowers along the fence right in with some peas? Mixing it up, getting crazy. People stopped theorizing about ‘building community’ and just started living it.

Frankly, where it ends no one knows. We can only dream and grow…and we do.

Filling in the story

1. Consider for yourself:

  • What part of the EGP story do you hold?
  • What were some of the key events or milestones you remember?
  • Who have been the players along the way?
  • What were some of the most interesting experiments to you?
  • What keeps building and growing?
  • What failed fabulously?
  • What got left behind along the way?
  • What’s emerging that wasn’t planned?
  • What have you learned?

2. Everyone: Could you jump in and add to this wiki the key milestones, events, experiments and collaborations that you remember through the EGP’s first 5 years?

  • Add your recollections, in point form or purple prose, under the years below.
  • Be as specific as you can but don’t worry if you’re off on the chronology or other details; there will be lots of us to weed and tend.
  • By the way this is all anonymous.
  • Remember: just click “edit”, type your thought, then click “save”.

Year 0 (2005)

VCH Community Food Action Initiative Started which gave VCH a mandate to become involved in food security with some $ available. Requirement form the province to involve ‘partners’ and produce an environmental scan of existing ‘food security’ activities in our community; completed by SPARC. Gaps and opportunities identified. Not sure if the chronology follows here but sort of (JKT). Margaret B suggested creating a “Grow a Row, Share a Row” program for the NS. Erin B became aware of the UBCM funding and contacted Cheryl to sponsor an application. VCH had a mandate to develop a multi-sectoral committee to address food security. Used first of our grant funding towards start-up of Edible Garden Project.

Regional Health Authorities

§ Manage the initiative at the regional level
§ Provide funding to promote integrated
solutions to community needs
§ Establish an inter-sectoral Regional Food
Security Committee
§ Undertake assessment of need
§ Monitor and be involved in evaluation
§ Provide representation to the Provincial Food
Action Advisory Committee

UBCM Community Health Promotion Fund Application
“The Edible Garden Project – Sharing Local Garden Harvest”
A.Applicant Information
1.Local Government:City of North Vancouver
3.Contact Person:Cheryl Kathler

Year 1 (2006)

From: Cheryl Kathler []
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2006 16:27
To: Thompson, Jean [NS]; Black, Erin [NS];;; Broughton, Margaret [NS];;;;;; Suzanne Smith;;; Christine Gooch;; Heidi Schimpl; Tricia Jane Edgar
Subject: Edible Garden Project – Cheque in Mail !!
Importance: High

Hello everyone – I just received word that the project is funded (hurray!!).

Press Release
The Edible Garden Project – Sharing the Local Garden Harvest

Gardeners encouraged to share their harvest with those in need

By Margaret Broughton
February 16, 2006
Invitation to all gardeners! Want to provide food to those in need while doing something you love? How about starting one row at a time? With a handful of seeds and a love of gardening, people can plant, grow and harvest an extra row of vegetables to donate to their local food bank or soup kitchen through a new North Shore program, the Edible Garden Project. The program was inspired by Plant a Row • Grow a Row ( a national partnership between the Canadian Association of Food Banks (, Garden Writers Association and Composting Council of Canada. Assistance with harvesting excess tree fruit may be offered through a tree fruit project, stay tuned for further information. These programs success will be driven by the enthusiasm of North Shore gardeners and residents who share their harvest with others. The Edible Garden Project is coordinated by a local committee involving all three municipalities, Vancouver Coastal Health, North Shore Neighbourhood House and numerous community agencies and volunteers.

Gardeners encouraged to share their harvest with those in need

Early in the year, we get confirmation about funding and Cheryl calls a meeting. We discuss whether Maureen Hayes (in the first meeting) should coordinate and decide that since she is moving eventually, we will hire someone. We talk about a home for the project and decide on the North Shore Neighborhood House because they might be able to give us some office space and a phone. We hire Jeanine as the first coordinator based on her food policy background.

We have meetings to create a network of food recipients and talk about fridges and food storage. We decide that it is best to go with a place that already has some storage. We approach the Food Bank and learn that they distribute everything from a central location. We go with the Harvest Project as a start.

(This is the year that Liz started working at the NSRP, filling in for Heidi Schimpl and Caroline Jackson who was on the above grant application with Cheryl Kathler, I think. NSRP is asked to be an advisor on the steering committee?)

(Spring/Summer 2006?) Liz volunteers to build a boulevard garden with EGP volunteers at an empty lot beside her home. This may have been (?) the first garden on official CNV property, as it was on a vacant lot, just between the sidewalk and the property line. City officials seemed to think this was OK, and although many came to ask about it, no one ever made us remove it – and literally bags and bags of food was donated through Harvest Project from this one little garden alone. Lesson learned: food gardens in public spaces are not vandalized, even though teenagers abound in the area! (This area was bulldozed in 2007 for new-home construction, so garden was 1-year only. But by that time, a new one had sprung up just around the corner!)

EGP’s Website presence is initiated by Janine and her brother Simon. The “waving plant” logo is designed and we all fall in love with its gentle but enthusiastic reaching for the sun!

The EGP grows/collects/donates 717 lbs of produce for donation. 60 people have signed up to receive EGP updates. No workshops were conducted in this first year (there was a focus on preserving).

Year 2 (2007)

Jeanine leaves and we hire Heather, who is just starting out her food security career in Vancouver and comes from an organic farming and gardening background. We like her enthusiasm. We create more backyard gardens and begin to exceed our capacity there. We have drop-off points for food but many of them don’t get used, so we work on consolidating them.

Heather begins to meet with Heather Sadler at the City of North Vancouver to talk about 1) community garden space, and 2) an EGP demonstration garden on public land.

(?) What year did the EGP/NSRP start promoting “Sharing Backyards” web site? 2007

(?) What year did the EGP start the Spuds in Tubs partnership – what an amazing program this little spud-nik has turned into! Seniors and children sharing the eventful harvest and having a potato-themed party just is the pinnacle of great community food-growing!
– Spuds in Tubs was brought to the North Shore by Krista Tullock in 2008. 5+ north shore teachers participated – and this has GROWN dramatically. The EGP continues to play a mild coordination role in ensuring North Shore teachers know about the program and get their applications in on time – we continue to be involved more heavily at Queen Mary.

2300 lbs of produce are collected/donated. (Harvest). 60m2 of cultivated land. Mailing list increases to 110. The EGP delivers 15 workshops.

Year 3 (2008)

VCH begins a strategy of funding urban agriculture initiatives and gardening consultation (including Heather).

Grant Opportunity

Vancouver Coastal Health
North Shore Food Action Advisory
Present our 2008
Community Food Garden Initiative

Inviting groups in North & West Vancouver to apply for grants of up to $2,000 to plan and initiate a communal garden for your group, school, preschool or organization.

Heather works with Metro Vancouver at housing complexes and the Urban Agriculture Grants begin. She has regular gardening volunteer days in backyard gardens. We talk about the Queen Mary Community Garden as a possibility. We do booths at farmers’ markets.

(Jul/08?) EGP breaks ground – FINALLY – on a yard-sized food demonstration garden south of Queen Mary Elementary School. Some neighbours think it’s like an ugly farm, but most are enthralled by the idea.

(Sept/08) NSRP, in partnership with the EGP throws a great, big urban-agriculture-themed “Party” as a celebration for the 10th and final year of the North Shore Natural Gardens Tour – on the big empty grassy field beside Queen Mary Elementary. Wouldn’t it be great to have a real, big garden here instead of this puny, little one? A thousand people attend the happy event and many are intrigued by the idea presented at one of the event booths.

The EGP begins to build a relationship with Grant McNeil.

(?) What year were the little garden signs made so people could advertise their front-yard gardens that produce food for the EGP? Awesome awareness/education tool! This was 2008!

(?) What year did the EGP help VCH by sitting on the funding committee for small urban agriculture grants, and then following up by supporting fund-receivers? These small grants have been instrumental in nurturing small-scale, local urban ag on the North Shore for all different walks of life/people. The elderly, the young, the disenfranchised, the poor, youth-at-risk and new-to-Canada residents. Amazing stuff!

2500 lbs of produce are collected / donated.

This is the first year that Keira is involved in doing our Evaluation / Planning!

The North Shore Community Garden Society is formed. (October)

Year 4 (2009)

The Queen Mary Community Garden breaks ground. The North Shore Community Gardens Society forms and work begins on getting a community garden in the District.

(GardenSmart Workshop Series – was this the 1st or 2nd year of partnership?) EGP and NSRP and Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre partner to create a bigger and better public workshop series for North Shore residents. Attendance is block-buster and waiting lists are long. Food-themed workshops are the most popular of all; urban food is the new “lawn”!

(Spring/Summer 2009): NSRP and EGP partner to deliver 3 “Natural Garden Parties” on food-gardening-related themes. Various instructors. Various topics: fruit trees, patio gardening (food) and veggie gardening. Three hosts, 48 participants! Not a bad program, but NSRP staff had a hard time administering extra events; didn’t do it again in 2010. Program participants were “general public” and “seniors”, not necessarily families in need.

Paulette LaCroix’s pursues the idea of a Community Orchard on a City Right of Way adjacent to her house. She goes through the bureaucratic process with the CNV, and voila, the orchard begins with community volunteers planting trees in the fall of 2009

Harvest Project and Grant McNeil are the primary food recipients – 2700 lbs of produce are donated. Grant McNeil residents go on a field trip to Glen Valley Organic Farm.

Heather begins talking with the DNV re: community gardens.

Year 5 (2010)

(GardenSmart Workshop Series 2010): NSRP, EGP, LCEC partner to deliver 18 free public workshops, 1 or 2 per month from February through October. Fabulous attendance and lots of new participants. Food gardening and all things related to it is still the hottest topic in town.

The EGP is working towards formalizing a relationship with the North Shore Neighbourhood House – Joy joins the Steering Committee.

The Queen Mary Community Garden officially opens! The Lillooet Park Community Garden begins!

3. At the session on Thursday could you tell the following aspects of the story?:

Jean: What was the context of food security work on the north shore before the EGP? Why did forming the EGP seem necessary?
Don: Why did the North Shore Neighbourhood House get involved right away as the host of the project? What made that feel like a natural fit? How has that relationship evolved?
Cheryl: Could you describe the impetus for the project from the city’s point of view?
Liz, Tricia, Margaret, Derek: Could you describe the value of the EGP to the NSRP, Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health and Harvest Project? Why did you get and stay involved?
Keira: Will speak to the volunteer involvement (via the stories she harvests as part of the EGP annual evaluation).
Heather: We’re sure you’ll be chiming in on everything!
Everyone: Will you jump in with questions, clarifications, prompts and reflections?

Thanks Liz for all this detailed and very impressive recap. However, I wasn’t asking you to write anything down for this section. I just wanted to give you a heads-up as to the kind of questions I’ll be asking on Thursday as part of prompting the story. We only have an hour for the whole story to give an indication of the level of detail we’ll be able to go into.

But it’s amazing to have this documented here and I’m sure this will be referred to in the future. In fact, I find myself wondering, what other venues might there be for this aspect of the story? Funders? Keira

Liz: Value of EGP to the NSRP, the North Shore’s tri-municipal waste reduction agency ( have asked my colleagues for their input on this, too).

  • allows NSRP to provide more waste reduction outreach (in the form of gardening-related workshops to the general public) than we ever could do on our own
  • permits additional exposure of NSRP’s key messaging (which is waste reduction) to North Shore residents
  • many aspects of partnership are considered “newsworthy” by North Shore News, so our profile is raised along with EGP’s
  • Gives us greater access to the public through sharing digital communications media: e-newsletters, Facebook, website links
  • Increases number of NSRP’s e-newsletter subscribers through EGP-partnered events
  • Tons of “cross-pollination” of program ideas (EGP has amazing, savvy and linked-in coordinators) and shared resources (free room rentals for North Shore Neighbourhood House-linked facilties, event materials, occasional colour poster printing for shared events)
  • Access to community gardeners who mainly live in multi-family buildings, one of the most difficult-to-reach demographics with the longest way to go in terms of recycling and composting
  • Access to all EGP’s current “contacts” for NSRP program promotion if relevant to that group
  • Inclusion of NSRP at decision-making and advisory tables in food issues on the North Shore that help reduce food-packaging waste at source

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s