Public Engagement Meeting Summary

“Where Will Our Garden Grow?”

For Common Roots Urban Farm

At Citadel High School Auditorium

April 11, 2018

7pm – 9pm

written by Greg Woolner of CoLab

What Happened

Approximately 250 people attended the event. Four language translators were present to work with the large number of new Canadians.

The meeting began with an opportunity for participants to share why they thought the farm is important to them personally, and why it is important to the health of our city.  Introductory presentations were given by Colab, Partners for Care, and the Project Coordinators of CRUF, providing background information about the farm and why the farm needs to transition to a new site. The majority of the engagement was spent in small-group discussions, guided by worksheet booklets that were completed and collected.

The following is a summary of the worksheet booklets completed by participants.

The results of the evaluation of the engagement can be found at the end.

Section 1 

What are your suggestions for where the farm could go?

New Location Ideas Number of times suggested
Citadel Hill 19
St Pats Site 19
Halifax Common 13
Roof on Hospital 11
Gorsebrook 9
Bloomfield 7
Rooftops 7
Museum of Natural History 6
Cogswell Interchange 5
Seaview Park 5
Olc School for the blind site (VG) 4
Windsor Park (CFB) 4
On Hospital Grounds (part of new dev) 3
Shannon Park 3
Superstore Rooftops / Quinpool 3
Universities on Peninsula 3
Vic Park 3
Bayers and Connaught empty lot NW corner 2
Bengal Lancers / HRM green houses 2
CBC parking lot 2
Centre of Oval 2
Dartmouth Commons 2
George Dixon Centre 2
Le Marchant School 2
Old Halifax Library Spring Garden 2
Old sears building 2
Public Gardens 2
Reef / Boat garden in harbour 2
Terminal Road 2
Vacant lot south of Atlantica on Robie 2
Wanderers grounds 2
Windsor and Young empty Lot 2
Armdale Roundabout Middle 1
Ben’s Bakery 1
Cemeteries 1
Centennial Pool Triangle 1
Crown Rd Park 1
Exhibition Grounds 1
Fort Needham 1
Halifax Grammar School 1
Hatfield Farms 1
Macintosh Run 1
Mt St Vincent 1
Northwood Seniors Home 1
OlD Dartmouth Library 1
Old St Thomas School Site 1
Point Pleasant Park 1
Post Office on Almon 1
Prescott Garden (Robie) 1
Public Schools (all of them) 1
Quinpool and Harvard empty lot 1
Royal Artillery Park 1
Scotia Square 1
St Vincent Nursing Home 1
Waterfront 1
Westmount Area along chebucto 1

Comments

“St Pats: It;s central, its large, its accessible. let’s keep the land in public hands.”

“St pats is the best option, its right by the current location, its central, and city owned.”

“Already existing urban farms in spryfield and dartmouth, but nothing in fairview/clayton park”

“Should not be moved in the first place”

“Lets de-pave existing parking lots”

“One in every community!”

“Putting it on the Common; it’s already public, its close, its unobstructed, nice interaction with oval. when we’re not skating, we’re gardening!”

“Peninsula would be ideal, but we’re flexible”

“Needs to be in a place where many people can walk”

“What about seniors facilities?”

“Needs to be accessible”

“Already existing urban farms in spryfield and dartmouth, but nothing in fairview/clayton park”

“Connect with school gardens and nourish NS”

“Why don’t we garden in the public gardens?”

“Do what it takes, other institutional affiliations like seniors centres and schools

“Explore vertical farming”

Section 2  

A) Is it okay for the new farm to be dispersed over multiples sites?

72 votes – YES, it can be divided into multiple sites.  (For example, market garden in one place, plots in various other sites)

57 votes – NO, the whole farm should stay together in one large site

Comments

“Prefer all functions together, but multiple sites is 2nd option.”

“Both, keep the farm as a whole and also have satellite farms.”

“Mix of users is what makes it special, people meeting each other.”

“One main site plus neighbourhood sites.”

“Ideally the farm is not divided.”

“Together would be best but everyone would prefer multiple small farms, to not having one at all.”

“Mixture of 3 components in each spot if possible. Best part is having it all together.”

“Cool seeing multiple ways of gardening – having one diverse site contributes to the energy of the project.”

“Dispersed: no. multiplied: yes.”

“Dispersing the farm creates greater access and influence.”

“A dispersed site is not ideal, but better than no farm.”

“It would not be ideal to divide it, keeping it together keeps logistics easier, and community together.”

“Dispersed: the density and critical mass makes the project successfully diverse, accessible, with shared amenities, cost, and experiences.”

B) Should the farm be on or close to a hospital?

80 – YES, if possible, stay close to a hospital

49 – NO, this is not an important consideration for choosing a new home for the farm

Comments

“Make entering the hospital a positive experience”

“Shuttle from hospital to farm – wherever it lands”

“Somewhere to build another oasis of peace calm and respite :)”

“Retain access to farm for hospital guests and personnel. food is medicine. doing is medicine.”

“A farm should stay close to the hospital”

“Explore opportunity to integrate edible landscaping and gardening space into qe2 development”

“It being on a hospital was great for patients, not essential for gardeners”

“Farm should stay at least connected to hospitals”

“Being close to the hospital is nice, but the most important thing for finding a new space”

“Design an urban rooftop on the hospital, because it can be built into the architecture as a tribute”

“Still keep a garden for patients and stressed hospital workers”

“Nice to be near the hospital. but not most important.”

“Holistic health philosophy, great for patients.”

“Having the farm be close to the hospital is more important for hospital patients than the farm.”

“We love the healing aspect of having the farm near the hospital. but we understand this might not be possible.”

“It’s great for inpatients who can get out for short walks.”

C) Should the farm be on publicly owned land

80 – YES, it’s better if it is publicly owned land

25 – NO, it’s ok to be on private land

D) Should the farm stay on the Halifax peninsula?

97 – YES, on the Halifax Peninsula please

27 – Dartmouth, Spryfield, Fairview – all should be considered.

E) Would you still use the farm if it moved to …

Yes No
Spryfield 44 87
Dartmouth 44 78
Fairview 66 60

Comments

“We’d like an urban farm in fairview so it’s walking distance for our community (This is a group of newcomers that do not spend time on peninsula)”

“We live in fairview. we want to use public buses, or walk. and grow plants easily.”

F) Is space for a market stand important?

100 -YES

26 – NO

Comments

“Having a market stand is important because we need to be able to bring in money.  That’s all I’ve used it for.”

“The market stand is really important for sustainability, sharing wealth, and entrepreneurship”

G) Is space for a gathering place important?

129 – YES

1 – NO

Comments

“Having a gathering space is the difference between regular community gardens and CRUF”

“Don’t want to have “more of the same” community gardens”

“Gathering place is key”

“Socializing and diversity and community are important”

Section 3

Yes No
Do you live on the peninsula? 102 40
Do you work on the peninsula? 95 37
Do you spend a lot of time on the peninsula? 135 7

Note: this was interesting to cross-reference site location preferences.   For some people, the farm being near their home was important.  For many others, they were willing to travel to the farm, or have the farm move to where the farmers are.

Section 4: Access

When selecting a new location for the farm, how should different modes of transportation be prioritized?

  1. Bus
  2. Walking
  3. Bicycle
  4. Car

Section 5

Priority

Number of groups that voted for this priority

Total of 29 groups

Access for the most people

I want a farm that everyone can get to in a variety of ways

27 Votes
Permanent site

I want a farm that won’t have to move in the next 7 years

15 Votes
Growing conditions

I want a productive farm that has good sun, wind, soil, drainage

14 Votes
Amenities (water, electricity, adjacent building)

I want a farm that has easy access to washrooms, water, inside space, etc.

12 Votes
Safety

I want a farm that is very visible and open

10 Votes
High Profile

I want a farm that is highly visible and centrally located

6 Votes
Proximity to where I live

I want a farm that is in my neighbourhood

3 Votes
Proximity to apartments

I want a farm that serves a lot of people who don’t have yards

3 Votes

 

Comments

“What is important is accessibility, active transport, land security and amenities.”

“Consider land trust for long term sustainability.”

“How about a land trust? it might make it more sustainable.”

“How about a land trust for permanent land security? Hear! Hear!”

“We need a comprehensive food and health strategy.”

“Support cultural food sovereignty.”

“Work with halifax food policy alliance.”

“Should have permanent greenhouse.”

Event Feedback

At the end of the event, a feedback form was offered. Here are the questions and results.

  1. The purpose of the meeting was clearly explained

2. I had enough information to contribute to the conversation

3. I feel that my voice was heard

4.  I understand how the information from the meeting will be used

5. I think the meeting will make a difference