After finishing his degree in International Development Studies, Krawczyk felt like he had learned valuable critical questions, but was left searching for positive solutions. He discovered gardening and found it to be an inspiring way to participate in working towards positive change. Krawczyk and Goldwynn describe how significant gardening can be for our personal well-being and as a way to reduce our climate impact.
While gardening can feel insignificant in the context of the enormity of the climate crisis, growing food is valuable for mental health and as a way to connect with the earth. Goldwynn says, “It’s grounding. You’re literally grounding with the earth and that can have such a positive effect on your well-being.”
Krawczyk drives home the impact of gardening by imagining what might happen if no one grew food in their backyards. That could seem fairly insignificant at first, but the negative ripple effects over decades would be significant. People would begin to lose touch with the seasonality of food and the local knowledge that gardeners carry would be lost. Imagining a world without gardeners shows the significance of what gardeners contribute.
Claire McGillivray, Farm Coordinator for the Edible Garden Project, describes how valuable it is to build awareness and have spaces where people can experience firsthand climate solutions in action. She says, “Sometimes it’s hard for folks to imagine what solutions could look like until they see them.”
The Edible Garden Project is a community-based non-profit that works to inspire and empower their community to grow food. Their programs provide a diversity of ways to get involved and learn more about gardening and the local food system. They place an emphasis on “Providing and increasing food access for those who are most in need,” McGillivray says.
Gardening is a powerful way to build connections and bring people together. “The simple act of working together on a shared task, especially when it’s something that’s so physical, tangible and relatable,” McGillivray says, creates unique opportunities for connection.
Ariel Reyes Antuan, co-founder of Iyé Creative, a grassroots food justice collective in Greater Victoria, shares similar thoughts on bringing people together and forming stronger communities through gardening. Iyé Creative’s work supports and ensures the participation of racialized and marginalized people in the local food system. Reyes Antuan says, “If we don’t lift each other up, start collaborating, and getting together as a community, for me, we are in trouble.”
When Reyes Antuan discovered the technique of burlap sack gardens, a method of gardening in burlap sacks that originates and is practiced across East Africa, the idea resonated with him as a way to connect with his identity and create more resilient and supportive communities. He started Palenke Greens, an initiative that supports people who are Indigenous and of African descent to grow food through the traditional technique of burlap sack gardens. Since 2020, the Palenke Greens initiative has helped create more than 90 burlap sack gardens and distribute 100 seedlings.
Reyes Antuan sees gardening as a way to give people hope, showing them that it is possible to regain agency and grow some of their own food. He says, “If we are able to mentor, teach, and inspire them to recognize their contribution within our local food systems, those people are going to participate. When those people participate, they bring those communities and wisdom that they represent,” to fighting the climate crisis and building local food systems.