The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm hosts a number of indigenous food security initiatives that are seeding social sustainability through the elements of water, earth and community.
Consider the Urban Aboriginal Community Kitchen Garden Project, which is organized by the Vancouver Native Health Society. Hundreds of participants – many from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside – regularly make the trek to UBC Farm which involves carpooling or taking the bus to UBC’s south campus. They plant, weed and harvest crops, preparing communal meals and sharing extra produce with those in need.
Many participants undergo a sense of renewal by connecting to others and to the land, says Assoc. Prof. Eduardo Jovel, Director of Indigenous Research Partnerships at the Faculty of Land and Food Systems.
Jacqui Adams says her time at the Urban Aboriginal Community Kitchen Garden Project is nothing less than restorative. “When we came back from residential school in the summertime, my mom always had a garden. There is a lot of stuff that I forgot about, that I am remembering. It restores my soul.”
Also at UBC Farm are the Maya in Exile Garden, the Institute for Aboriginal Health Teaching and Learning Research Garden and the Musqueam Indian Band Garden. Overall, more than 300 community members and students are involved in these four gardens.
“As a 24-hectare teaching and learning farm, UBC Farm offers a physical and cultural space where people can explore sustainability issues, including Aboriginal health and traditional ecological knowledge,” says Jovel, whose research areas include ethnobotany, aboriginal health, natural product chemistry and food security.
–Lorraine Chan, UBC Public Affairs