In 2017, 4 million households (1 in 8) were food insecure in Canada. This was before the pandemic hit. We observe that there is a disconnect between people living in urban areas and growing their own food. This problem can be attributed to a lack of access to green space and money, and a knowledge gap when it comes to Indigenous gardening practices.
What it does
A simple act that can affect climate change efforts is to plant a food forest. A food forest is made up of 7 layers of plants that grows edible vegetables and fruits that mimics a natural forest. We have created an accessible website to form a community to learn about food forests and connect with likeminded people in their local areas to scale their individual initiatives. We want to educate people on the impact of food forests, how they can go about making one in their community, and how this ties into Indigenous practices and perspectives. Communities are highly effective at knowing the ins and outs of the problems they face, and we will allow them the opportunity to also be proficient in knowing the different solutions they may take.
How we built it
First, we surveyed 78 individuals who live in Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean. This survey asks questions that interrogate individuals’ knowledge of and experience accessing food, growing their own food forests and incorporating Indigenous knowledge. This survey acted as primary market research, and thus allowed us to tweak our website to meet these recommendations.
The Home Page features three tabs: Our Initiatives, Resources, and Impact Map. Our Initiatives is a page where we summarize the problem of climate change and our solution to it. Resources give links to articles we’ve written, which explain the benefits of food forests, how foods forests can be financed as well as how to get involved in growing one, and an article which describes how global food forests are. The major Indigenous culture and language map was created using ArcGIS StoryMap.
In the future, we want to expand our website and make the story map be interactive so people can directly edit and put information on to show how they built a food forest in their own community. We also want to make our resources page a place where people can submit their own articles that are pre-approved.
Challenges we ran into
Our team came from a diverse background in different industries which made it difficult to communicate at times due to the differences in vocabulary. Further, we ran into the trouble of making a business case for our initiative, but speaking with Mentor Lilia helped with generating some neat ideas to fund the initiative. One of the biggest challenges we stumbled into as well was how to distill so much information into 4 minutes that fly by so quickly.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud that within the past 48 hours, we were able to come together as strangers on the internet to form a cohesive and complementing team to develop a fully functional prototype.
What we learned
We learned a lot about food forest and food insecurity. We also learned about the multidimensional nature of our solution, of how one initiative can address 11 Sustainable Development Goals.
What's next for Food Forest For All
Moving forward, our goal is to first on-board existing Food Forest organizations so that they can support our users. Second, our goal is to support Indigenous language users by including more Native languages on the site. Eventually, we would like to turn this into an international initiative.