People often fear change, but as gardeners and farmers we know that change is inevitable – no season is ever the same, and there are infinite opportunities to tweak, adjust, and improve our gardens. At the end of March I moved to the North Okanagan to start a farm(ahh!!). Needless to say after working with the Edible Garden Project for six years this has been a huge change and transition for me.
When I started working at the EGP I had dabbled in community gardens, and WOOF’d overseas, but my ‘community development’ knowledge was mostly theoretical. The EGP offered me not only the grounds to experiment with growing vegetables, but also build community. And what a community!! Every time I’ve stopped to reflect on what we do at the EGP, I’ve been amazed by the enthusiasm, support, and engagement of the North Shore community – from every volunteer, customer, passerby, student, teacher, municipal representative, advisory committee member, and more . Truly, this community made the EGP the amazing thing it became.
Being part of the EGP has been a real chapter in my life; I’ve learned and grown so much in this very hopeful, hands-on, and inspiring atmosphere. I’ve learned the power of perseverance. It’s amazing to see how the EGP has evolved from it’s beginning ten years ago, and the thousands of people that have played their part – large and small. One small garden and a produce donation box, to over an acre of urban land growing vegetables to sell and share across the North Shore. This change didn’t come with one “big break” but with the commitment of a small group of people to show up and get their hands dirty despite rain and sleet, and then that group just kept growing!
I’ve also learned the power of networks and connecting people. This is the root of community building for me. The more people that know each other in our neighbourhoods, the more resources we share, the more connections that those people and resources begin to make outside of the scope of the EGP, the more resilient our community is. No one person, situation or item will make or break a situation because of the web of connections (perspectives, approaches, relationships) weaving it all together. The EGP as a whole community has really excelled at developing a strong network, and I believe this is why we’ve been able to grow, experiment with new ideas and projects, reach more people, and be successful.
As Manager I’ve spent less time in the field, but I’ve had the opportunity to build much stronger and more meaningful relationships with the amazing folks that work for the EGP. Few of our volunteers have the chance to get to know everyone – Leslie, Holly, Jillian, Jason, Kristi, and Lisa – because they’re all off working their magic in different places. If you did know all of them you’d be astounded by the depth of their dedication, passion, knowledge, and work ethic. They are the backbone of the EGP, connecting all the different moving parts, and providing a strong foundation for all sorts of amazing things to happen. I couldn’t be happier that Kristi has stepped up to the Manager role. As you get to know her you’ll respect and value her kindness, intelligence, power to navigate rough water with a gentle touch, and dedication to the EGP community. It’s been a real honour to work with all of them, I couldn’t have asked for a more positive and inspiring team. I have no doubt that they will continue to make the EGP flourish, and that you will continue to feed and inspire their passion for this work.
I got involved with the EGP because I wanted to make a difference; the weight of climate change rests heavily on my conscience. In the face of massive challenges like climate change the most demoralizing thing I’ve encountered is feeling like I don’t matter or I can’t make a difference. When I realized that it all changed when I got my hands in the soil alongside new and old friends, a deep down connection and grounded-ness drowned out those feelings of helplessness and isolation. Every garden that we plant together, weed that we pull, and meal that we share makes our world a better place. Every time we garden together, make a place for someone new, and share a smile, we change someone’s day… and then their life! Collectively we have made incremental shifts and big leaps to making our community more sustainable, welcoming, and stronger because we’ve shown up. This is the biggest impression that the EGP has left on me – that we all matter, and we do make a difference.
It’s been a real honour to learn from everyone that has touched the EGP over the years, and I’ve made so many friendships. Although I’ve left the North Shore, I’m still lucky enough to be part of the EGP team and supporting our fundraising work from my new home. I will be grateful for the time I’ve spent at the EGP and the Neighbourhood House for the rest of my life, and I will always look back on these years with a smile on my face and happy tear in my eye. In a short blog post it is hard to express just how deeply an impression all of you have made on my life, so take my word for it! With a high five and a big hug I’ll say, “see ya later!”
PS – If you’re ever in the Enderby area, drop me a line and come for a visit (or help me weed!). You can keep up with our adventure at Enderberry Farm on instagram (emily.enderberry), our website, or sign up for email updates.Share EGP!