Every year, we survey farm users, both in the middle as well as at the end of the season, so that we can hear what we are doing well, what needs improvement, and if we’re creating the impact we’re intending.
Note: Special thanks to Adrian Herod, an Advisory Committee member who has lead and supported this work for the last 4 years.
The results from our 2017 end of season survey are as follows:
The survey was generated and disseminated using eSurv.org. The survey was open from November 8th to January 4th. A hyperlink for the survey was sent to the CRUF community through the newsletter and through a direct email. A total of 58 individuals completed the survey.
Here is a snapshot of demographics:
The majority of people live in B3H & B3L, but our participants live within all these postal codes:
We want to know why people use the farm, what people’s motivation(s) are, and if the farm is fulfilling its purpose for users. We asked “What is/are your motivation(s) for being a part of Common Roots Urban Farm?”
Love of gardening, spending more time outside, growing own food, being part of the community, and learning new skills are the top answers.
97% of participants report that their motivations are fulfilled. (How fabulous is that?!) When pressed for comment as to how and why, people say…
“My plot has produced a variety of fresh veggies to eat. I like spending time up on the hill that creates a sanctuary from the city hum. And love seeing all the creative plots and flowers abounding.”
“Every time I drive, bike, or walk by, and every time I’m at the hospital, I am so pleased to see the urban farm thriving, growing, and being so beautiful.”
“I am always happy to visit the farm. I feel like I learn so much and not just about farming. I learn about the people and cultures that share the city.”
“Amazing learning experience in so many respects.”
“I wanted to invite more joy into my life and felt called to get my hands in the dirt. I have been overjoyed at every step of my growing experience this year and thoroughly enjoyed time spent at the garden with lovely plants and humans.”
When asked what people love most about the farm, people answered:
“It’s a fun social space that provides an atmosphere of healing and community”
“Accessibility, liaison with hospital, open to all ideas and cultures”
“How big it is! And that it seems to have enough funding to continue to exist.”
“The sense of community and helping each other”
“I spend time outdoors there, and can relax and buy fresh produce and chat to people. I love good food and walking around gives me some exercise too. I like organic food when the price is right and I feel healthier overall for knowing where my veggies are from.”
“I love that it is a completely different model for living and working in a community. It is happier, healthier and more wholesome reality.”
“seeing the vast variety of produce and talking to all the people”
“Community of participants”
“Digging in the dirt.”
“Just looking out over the expanse of growing food. And the lovely people, and the goldfinches eating the sunflower seeds.”
“That we give back to the community, cultural diversity“
“being on a farm: fresh air, exercise, digging in the ground, watching things grow”
“How well organized and developed it is! Everything we needed was available :)”
“Ability to grow food, attend workshops, be part of a local garden. community”
“people offering support. access to tools. how beautiful it is. eating and tasting straight from the ground. generosity of others. the way my heart is happy when I’m there”
“The location in the core of Halifax allows it to feel like a getaway without having to travel more than a few minutes from home.”
“the feeling of nature, lush growth, activity, productivity!“
At the farm we value social inclusion, which we understand as “increasing the ways individuals and groups from a variety of backgrounds participate in the community.” We asked if, “In your opinion, does the farm successfully practice social inclusion in their programming?” With great joy, I’m happy to say that 98% of respondents say YES.
We asked how people think we do this:
“They have programs in place to make sure anyone who wants to can participate with the farm”
“I feel that staff have a great understanding of various cultures. Posting their invitations for events in various languages is something I don’t see often enough in Halifax. They are inclusive of immigrants and people with disabilities in their programming.”
“Raised beds for wheelchair users”
“many cultures, many religions, all sexual orientations: no challenges, no opinions – just farming.”
“The Deep Roots program! The participants contribute SO much to the farm community.”
“I am always amazed at the diversity of people working and wandering at the farm.”
“providing reduced rates and priority to immigrants and low-income earners. Providing opportunities for those with disabilities to farm.”
(I gotta say, as a staff person who has been working to create this community farm as a place for people to learn from each other, to read all these comments makes my heart burst.)
Next, we asked about if people see the farm used by hospital patients and staff. We asked this because its hard to measure how well used we are as a hospital amenity; staff can make estimates that there is a lot of usage by hospital patients staff and visitors, so we thought we’d ask others. 75% say yes ‘every so often’ or ‘almost every visit’, so I think it’s safe to say the farm is well used by hospital patients and staff.
Another key outcome of the farm is mentorship and skill sharing. This too is a hard thing to measure! So, we asked if participants had ever helped someone on the farm, or been helped by someone.
So, people are building and sharing skills with each other at Common Roots. This can be called building social capital, and we know that social capital is an important part of health.
Final comments from the people:
“The Common Roots Urban Farm has been an amazing space to meet people, and focus on honing skills. After joining the farm I was exposed to people of all ages and backgrounds with a common purpose. It has been a transformative experience getting to learn skills and taste real food. This farm has brought myself and others closer to our food systems and built a stronger community.”
“The farm is a really warm and friendly community. It’s a very special place.”
“Make more plots please.”
“Make cooking class in the farm”
“Could be good to see the food stand close to the sidewalk so people walking by can take advance of the food and be aware of what we are doing.”
“it’s great to have a farm that size in central halifax. thank you to all who make this possible and available. the farm is a great addition to the variety of activities and events this city offers.”
“Super fantastic management team”
“The farm needs to continue to be part of the community of the Common.”
“If there is development in the Halifax Common, CRUF should have a place in it!”
“The farm is a space for people who want to farm, meet, grow together, a place to fulfill a need that the city in generally not provided, which is feed our bodies and souls.”
Thank you for reading all of this! Thank you Adrian for all of your work with this. Thank you to everyone who filled out the survey. Congradulations to Jillian Farris for winning the completion draw.