Wild Minds 2019 Final Report

Wild Minds builds on 11 years of food growing education with students in the Britannia School gardens and surrounding community garden spaces by providing valuable hands-on skill building and understanding of food growing, ecology, environmental sustainability, and community leadership in their school and community gardens.

Wild Minds emerged is a collaboration between the Grandview Woodland Food Connection and the Environmental Youth Alliance in order to expand Britannia Student’s connections to the much larger Strathcona and Cottonwood community gardens where EYA works.

This year, 12 youth joined the program, many of them from Streetfront Alternative and who face systemic barriers in life. The youth received minimum wage honorariums for attendance. For many youth, Wild Minds provided their first paid work experience.

The opportunities to learn in the gardens were varied and unique, keeping the youth fully engaged and interested. The 4.5 acre gardens which include orchards, bee hives, community gardens, pond areas, animal habitat, food forests, herb gardens, and existing wild areas provided the youth a new perspective of food growing and nature in the city.

Over the 10 sessions that the youth participated, they learned about bees and pollinators, native plants and soils, birds, seed-saving, composting and mulching, permaculture practice, animal habitat, food growing and garden maintenance, herbs and medicinals, and fruit growing, to name a few.

Check out the full Wild Minds 2019 report


Sharing Food, Sharing Culture

The Grandview Woodland Food Connection along with Flavours of Hope recently held a wonderful cross cultural food sharing event as part of the Sustenance Festival. We were joined by three amazing newcomer women – from the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela who each shared  some of their favorite recipes and food stories. A full house, including a rich diversity of community members joined in the preparation of the food, followed by tasting the delicious food and story sharing.

The three women shared a little about the food they made and stories of their lives. The audience was invited to share their own stories. Some choose to write down some of their favorite food memories.

Cooking together reminds me when I first moved here, I didn’t know anyone and had no family here. It was through cooking together in community that I met me chosen family and have been able to contribute to changing the food system for the better – Steph Lim

When I was 4 years old, I wanted to show my mother how much I loved her and appreciate her. So I woke up before her and made the best breakfast ever. And for a 4 year old, that was pancakes. Unfortunately, I burned my arm in the process and my mom ended up making the pancakes. After this experience and many more, I learned how the true ingredient in food is love and how a meal can connect people – anonymous

My family does hot pot for Christmas with three boiling stocks going on two tables. Cousins sit and one and parent sit at another and each have their own set of pot rules – Serena

I really enjoyed today’s cooking, sharing food from different cultures. Some methods are very familiar in Punjab culture. Frying stuff and Middle Eastern deserts remind me of sweets that I am used to. maybe next time, I can participate in setting up a table for a Punjabi food dish – Manjit

The afternoon event was grounded in the theme of identity and belonging. For most of us, food contains so many memories of family dinners, picnics, places we ate, preparing food with friends, the taste and smell of familiar and favorite foods. But especially for those who have migrated or who have been displaced from home countries, food memories can be strong, connecting one to home and identity. This would be especially strong for women whose traditional role in many households was often centered on food and all the aspects that go along with this – growing, preparing, sharing, feeding, nourishing, etc. A Syrian refugee woman once said how she had lost most everything, even family members to the war, but the one thing she still has and which she can still share with family and community are her recipes. Food traditions and sharing gives her meaning and helps her connect with others. It is something that she can offer.

It was also wonderful to work with Flavors of Hope who have said, “every dish has a story”. What a beautiful saying that acknowledges the importance of food in our lives. Check out their work supporting newcomer and refugee women in building social enterprise and livable incomes that help build social connection and meaning through cooking and sharing culinary traditions and stories.

Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks Impact Report

Vancouver NeighbourhoodFood Networks provided affordable meals, food skills programs, and social connections to over 30,000 people in 2018, as indicated in their inaugural impact report. This report has been a long time coming. We have seen a significant spike in use of our food services in recent years. With the rising cost of rent and food, families are forced to cut costs wherever possible. This impact report from the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks provides crucial data on food access and services city-wide.

Combining the need for affordable meals with the need for more social spaces in Vancouver, Vancouver Food Networks served more than 109,000 community meals in 2018, according to the report. On average, these meals cost between $3.00 to $7.00 and offered an affordable menu of seasonal and cultural home-style dishes.

Beyond serving meals, the report indicates Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks coordinated over 1,100 skill-building workshops, which generate lasting effects on community members’ well being: “I have grown because I cook better…when you cook and it’s really good and healthy, you feel proud and you get the courage to try new things,” shares a workshop participant from Mount Pleasant Food Network.

Read the full impact report for more details on Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Network’s city-wide initiatives in 2018, including fresh food distribution, seasonal celebrations, community and school gardens, and more.

Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks are made up of 15 community organizations committed to promoting food security across Vancouver. Based on the belief that all members of society have the right to quality food, they are committed to food equity and access, education, skill building, and advocacy, particularly for community members who struggle economically.

16th Annual Corn Festival – 2019

Recently celebrated the 16th annual and our 9th Fiesta Del Maize (Corn Festival) at Britannia Community Services Centre in partnership with organizers Canada El Salvador Action Network (CELSAN). Was another fun community event with lots of tasty food and great music celebrating Latin American culture. So thankful for this collaboration with the Salvadoran community and enriching all our lives in East Vancouver.

An important aspect to this festival is the celebration and awareness of the importance of corn to the people of Latin America. This is critically important in view of the fact that a very high percentage of corn now grown in Latin America is GMO which relies heavily on industrial inputs and pesticides such as Roundup. This agrochemical system is completely replacing hundreds of traditional corn varieties in Latin America and at the same time increasing food security risk in Latin America. Since corn is one of the more common GMO foods, it is important that you inquire if your corn purchase is GMO or not.

Wild Minds 2019 Day 10 (Last Day)

What a wonderful two weeks it was working with a really great group of youth from Britannia School and East Vancouver. Also great working with Brennan, our co-organizer from the Environmental Youth Alliance who helped create an engaging and fun program for the youth. For two weeks the youth learned about native plants, birds, insects, food growing, and ecology all the while playing, learning, exploring, and goofing around in one of the most beautiful places in Vancouver – The Strathcona and Cottonwood Community Gardens. All the youth reported feeling a closer connection to nature through this program, while learning new skills and building new friendships.

Check out more Wild Minds 2019 photos. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gwfc/albums/72157709849190891

Wild Minds 2019 – Day 9

Went over to the Environmental Youth Alliance Youth Garden and dug into some work. Spent most of the day clearing away some invasive and weeds, replacing Himalayan Blackberry, which can quickly overwhelm and smoother all other plants in time, with new native plants, including Salal, Salmonberry, Huckleberry and a few other plants and this creating much more plant diversity. Looked like the youth had fun.