My World My Garden Sister Walls
Food security is a challenge the world over in both developing and developed countries. The challenge is not that we cannot provide food. “We” can provide instant gratification, but this is a short term and band-aid solution. The challenge is being able to provide sustainable food sources. In many cases, a shortage of arable land and garden space contributes to the problem. The solution is three-fold: transfer skills, develop sustainable locally based food sources and consider the concept of building vertical food walls. There has been a definite shift in understanding the value of locally grown food, but in developing countries it is difficult to find land that can sustain crops and in developed countries, it is difficult for communities to give up valuable land space. The advantage of vertical farming is that it does not take up a lot of space.
This is the intent and underlying objective of the My Arms Wide Open, My World My Garden Causethrough the establishment and management of My World In A Garden® vertical food walls.
Our current goal is to construct at least two sister Vertical Food Wall Systems based on the design and technology of the living wall designed by acclaimed South African artist, Dylan Lewis - http://www.designindaba.com/news-snippet/untamed-garden.
The two food walls will use both vegetable and fruit plants in place of the regular plants used in the original design. One will be located in the Town of Cradock, Eastern Cape, South Africa. The other, a mirror of the Cradock live food wall will be located in the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada at the Ray-Cam Community Centre.
The Vancouver living vertical garden, like its sister wall in South Africa, will bring focus to community, food security and family. These food walls are about “more than just crops”. Projects like this can help create a sense of real community as families learn about how to grow and maintain the walls, volunteer to help and share the harvests.
In each instance, we run our Iziko LabahlaliProgram to engage the younger members of the community directly. The first program related to the food wall project will be run at the Ray-Cam Community Centre in the beginning of August 2011. You can find out about the program at: http://myarmswideopen.org/causes/my-mentor-my-coach.html.
During the spring and summer growing seasons, the garden will generate multiple harvests as well as a limited number of harvests in the autumn and winter seasons. The fresh vegetables harvested will support both Ray- Cam’s ongoing food program as well as their own community food bank. A portion of each harvest during the growing season will be canned or frozen to augment fall and winter food requirements.
During the fall and winter, the garden’s bottles not being used for vegetables and fruits will be replaced with suitable plants to maintain the wall during the off-season and allow for preparation of new vegetable seedlings for the spring. In addition to the fruit plants grown in the bottles, we intend to plant several fruit trees around the wall to support the surrounding community’s need for fresh fruit.
The fundamental emphasis, however, is on the educational opportunities that the garden and its supporting activities offer for the children and youth of the Vancouver Downtown Eastside.
The project will create collaboration and a sense of ownership across the community – ownership by the children who will work in the garden; their families, as a result of their own children’s involvement; and other families in the community who will benefit from the garden’s harvests. The intention is for this project inspire other children and youth within the community to take similar steps and spawn additional Vertical Food Wall Systems across the community.
CRADOCK, EASTERN CAPE
In Cradock, South Africa, My Arms Wide Open intends to build the garden at the site of the Masizame Community Centre. The garden will be built, maintained and operated by graduates of My Arms Wide Open’s Iziko Labahlali program. The food harvested from the garden will support the children of Nomzamo Day Care Centreand will be sold in the communities within Cradock through existing networks of mini-stores. The plants grown in the garden wall will be chosen based on local culture and community needs. The children, and their caregivers who attend the library and community center each day, will maintain the garden year round.
The ultimate goal of each vertical garden is to turn it into a community enterprise, providing fresh fruit and vegetables at low cost to community members. Although this aspect is relatively longer term, a part of the program for each of the sister walls will include teaching other youth from within the community how to establish their own ‘mini-walls’.
You can participate and support the communities in East Vancouver and Cradock by providingfunding, your time, your expertise, materials or referrals.
Go to: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/my-world-in-a-garden/ and be part of the solution!