How much food is being grown in community gardens and back yard gardens in Peterborough? And what impact does that produce have on food security and community well-being? Two student researchers at the Trent Community Research Centre are studying these questions on behalf of Nourish Peterborough, a local community food initiative.
Abigail Sparling, an Environmental Studies major, and Jennifer Boesche, an Environmental Resource Science major, are working on two discrete community-based research projects – Sparling is studying the yields of local community gardens and Boesche is focussing on back yard and sidewalk gardens.
Sparling says she was drawn to her project because of the way it “confronts a lot of the issues I deal with in my program, like food security, and the social, economic, and environmental aspects of community food production.”
“It seemed like a project I could really sink my teeth into,” Sparling says. “I thought it would be a really good opportunity to get some experience doing hands-on research.”
A significant part of the project will involve developing a system that Nourish can use in the future to measure and weigh the yields of gardens in Peterborough.
“These projects will help us determine the impact local gardens have, not only on food security in Peterborough, but also on the city’s economic and environmental health,” says Jill Bishop, the Community Food Cultivator at Nourish. Bishop says that with this information, Nourish will be able to better advocate for and give support to local gardeners.
Sparling has volunteered in community gardens since she was in high school, and she is looking forward to contributing to the local food movement in Peterborough through her community-based research project. “Community gardens are hubs for people to get together,” she says. “When people can get together to share knowledge around growing food it creates a deeper sense of community.”