This Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grant project was funded by the Vancouver Foundation and administered by The Association of Neighbourhood Houses BC.
If you know anything about me, it should be that I love to produce. I like to make things from seemingly nothing and I also like to instill that ability in others. Which is a big reason I have my garden. Taking a little seed and making it grow into a big ol’ plant, that’s my JAM! So after I got my community project rolling, I needed to do more! But on the limited budget that I was on (ahem, $0) I couldn’t do it alone. Which is when my googling took me to Neighbourhood Small Grants. The Vancouver Foundation actively funds small neighbourhood projects each year; all you need is an idea and the ability to share it and see it through.
When I found NSG, I got to work writing out my application.
Last year, my family grew more food than we were able to eat; we gave away the excess where we could to friends yet a fair amount still went to waste. In this we realized an opportunity to create community, and so this year, we have endeavored to build more gardening space. I am a horticulture student with an interest in edible landscaping and I intend to eventually eliminate my front lawn completely and replace it all with food. We have sent letters out to the 60 homes in our neighbourhood letting everyone know that we would be sharing our excess produce with them this year. Within the week, we have heard from about 10 of our neighbours, thanking us for this and already asking after some mint they saw growing; which is where this project comes in. I want to build a planter box (2’w X 6’l X 3’h) in my front yard, next to the sidewalk, in which to grow produce designated for the neighbourhood, starting with lettuces and mints. I also want to empower my neighbours to grow their own food by producing seedlings that they can plant in their own gardens and yards, and also provide free seeds with planting instructions. I will be doing the bulk of caring for the plants we grow, and I intend to create videos for our neighbours to learn how to harvest the plants being grown so that the plants are cared for and we continue to get a harvest from the food being grown. My project costs include the following: Purchasing the materials to make the planter box (treated wood, screws, dirt, delivery) Purchasing seeds and small plants to be planted into the planter Purchasing potting soil, reusable seedling pots, and seeds for seedlings Purchasing seed envelopes and printer ink to print on the envelopes Cost of printing and laminating small signs for the planter and to accompany the seedlings Cost of labels for the seedling pots so that they may be returned and reused I hope to cultivate a thriving community around the production of our own food. I hope to grow this project further in the future by putting a cold frame on the planter (for winter growing), creating a seed library where we may exchange seeds, and reusing the products purchased for this project to continue to offer plants and seeds to my neighbours in addition to the produce I share.
My ambitions were high, and still are! Once this NSG was approved, I got to work. Unfortunately, I mis-estimated how tall my planter should be, and it was nearly twice the height that we needed it to be (we wanted kids and adults alike to be able to pick yummy food!). Because the wood was already purchased and cut, and all the costs already estimated, I decided to double the footprint my yard was going to contribute to this project and made my one planter box into two.
While this was being built; I started growing some seedlings ASAP to share with my neighbors. Within a few days of the grant being approved I had the soil I needed to share some sunflower seedings (check out my instagram to learn why I had these to share!) and a few tomatillos. I had another neighbour with tons (16!) of volunteer tomato seedlings for me to share on my little community table. In the two months that I’ve had the funding, I’ve been able to share all these plants, and some pumpkin seedlings. So far, this little community table has shared 30+ seedlings!
Volunteer seedlingsSeedlings that pop up in places where you did not plant them. Usually they’re the offspring from fallen fruit from last year’s crop.
I wasn’t able to get dirt into the planter boxes until much later than I originally anticipated, so we’re just now beginning to get plants into it. I decided to fill one with tomato plants and a little bit of mint (which we have separated into it’s own planter within the box so that it doesn’t spread as easily). The other box is just about to be planted with some fall crops, like lettuce, kale, and maybe some radishes.
So if you’re on Hansard, feel free to swing by and pick up some fresh produce from the two labeled planters! Soon you’ll be finding seeds on the community table for fall planting, and other fun treats as a result of this neighbourhood small grant.