For three years, Project SOIL has used case studies, pilot projects and visioning sessions to investigate the viability of on-site food production at public institutions, through collaborative arrangements with local food producers.
Check out our final report!
Over that time, interest in food production on public land has continued to grow, with schools and universities, health care institutions and seniors residences, community food centres and food banks, as well as public agencies—from conservation authorities to crown corporations—making land available for food production.
Are you an engaged staff member, or an administrator at a public institution, who is interested in the idea of establishing food production or food gardens on-site? This research has established a baseline of preconditions, useful practices, potential barriers and positive adaptations—for a diverse set of institutional and community settings—that will allow project leads to envision how their idea would come to fruition, and build a compelling case.
Maybe you’re part of a community where public institutions control a significant amount of land, and you would like to develop a strategic vision that includes food production? Community groups, farmers, and organizations supporting urban agriculture, food security and food justice can use the information contained in the research report to identify what has worked in a situation similar to their own, and present this evidence to build a compelling proposal for their institutional partner.
Or maybe you’re a policy-shaper—working with new and young farmer training organizations, or advocates of sustainable health care reform, sustainable urban agriculture practices, or community resilience in the face of climate change—to illustrate the potential of positive alternative strategies to build new collaborative partnerships with multiple, and often unanticipated, synergies and benefits.
Project SOIL has built strong relationships with community and institutional leaders that will continue to innovate and collaborate in the pursuit of the beneficial synergies that spring up when you grow food on public land.
Our final report, “Ontario Public Institutions and On-site Food Production: Visualizing the Future for Health Care“, is available now. Please share widely!
The Harvest Health database, compiled by the students of Carleton University’s Health: Science, Technology, Policy program, is now online and easily accessible. Thanks to Kyle Dwyer, Marie-Claire Flores-Pajot, Jodie Lawlor, Jillian McGivern and Emma Pagotto, and to Agnes Malkinson for making this online database possible.
Three interesting Ottawa Citizen articles this week on changes to the food at Ottawa-area hospitals:
Ottawa Hospital CEO Dr. Jack Kitts recently ate hospital food, and you won’t believe what happened next. Well, if you have ever eaten hospital food, you probably will. (Read more…)
It might not be the next Beckta, but the Queensway Carleton Hospital is proving that hospital food doesn’t have to taste like hospital food. (Read more…)
That everyone understands the term, “hospital food” to be one of derision rather than praise is a problem. (Read more…)
The Green Team at Toronto Rehab, Bickle Center has teamed up with Greenest City to open their first wheelchair accessible garden! During the spring and summer, Greenest City will lead 3 gardening workshops open to staff and patients. Read more…
From Ag Innovation Ontario, the story of the Spruits, local producers who turn grains into superfoods:
…Last year, they grew 26 acres of heritage grains and are especially excited about two of them. The first is a hull-less barley, developed in Canada, which has half of the gluten found in wheat and high levels of beta-glucan fibre, vitamins and minerals.
The second is a non-GMO purple corn with origins in ancient Peru. When ground, it produces whole grain flour that is both a gluten-free alternative to wheat and has double the antioxidants found in blueberries. Too often, she said, people with gluten allergies will turn to substitutions that have little nutritional value.
And just as unfortunate, she noted that “so many of the superfoods that people are buying are imported from other countries”. The grains that the Spruits produce solve both issues – superfoods with high nutritional values that are grown “right here at home”.
Four products – Purple Corn Flour, Purple Corn Meal, Beta-Glucan Barley Flour and Barley Berries – are available commercially. Spruit has been promoting the line within culinary and health networks, and many restaurants and bakeries in the Ottawa area are now incorporating the flour and corn meal into their products.
On April 18, 2016 @ Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital, an interdisciplinary team of grad students in the Health: Science, Technology and Policy program at Carleton University presented their report reviewing the health benefits of gardens, and providing an inventory of tools that can be used to track such benefits. Harvesting Health: Investigating the Therapeutic Effects of Gardens is their capstone project, and available on our website. The tools will be coming soon!
For questions or further information please contact email@example.com
Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing
Clare Cooper Marcus, Naomi A Sachs (Wiley Press – 2013)
Therapeutic Landscapes focuses critical attention on the design and creation of landscapes that promote health and well-being, emphasizing the importance of evidence-based design to meet the needs of specific patient populations, as well as those of visitors and staff. It presents an overview of healing gardens and therapeutic landscapes from planning to post-occupancy evaluation and offers guidelines on which landscape architects, healthcare administrators, and funders to base their decisions.
RESTORATIVE GARDEN DESIGN: Enhancing wellness through healing spaces (free download)
M. Susan Erickson (Journal of Art and Design Discourse) June 2012 no.2 89-102.
Current research from a variety of academic disciplines reveals that contact with nature provides stress reduction, which in turn leads to improved health outcomes. This research leads to additional questions—what kind of contact with nature? How much? Are there certain types of plants which are more therapeutic than others?
See our research page on the Therapeutic Benefits of Gardens in Health Care Facilities…
Join us from 10:00am – noon, April 18, 2016 @ Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital for a presentation reviewing the health benefits of gardens, and providing an inventory of tools that can be used to track such benefits. Harvesting Health: Investigating the Therapeutic Effects of Gardens is the capstone project produced and delivered by the interdisciplinary team in the Health: Science, Technology and Policy program at Carleton University. This will be followed by an exploratory, ‘blue sky’ assessment of the near and long-term options and possibilities for the HGMH Therapeutic Gardens.
10:00 Presentation – Harvesting Health: Investigating the Therapeutic Effects of Gardens
11:00 A Blue Sky Visioning Session
A discussion of possibilities, including which factors will determine:
- …the optimal size / scale of food production on site?
The purpose of production; end use the food; reliance on facility staff for maintenance; future facility expansion; access for visitors / community; access for patients
- …the best use of the land?
From forest garden to silvi-pasture (just kidding), which purposes and factors will most limit or shape production? Risks; therapy; extension of the wheelchair-accessible raised beds; compost; future building site expansion; greenhouse[s]
- … the best use of the food?
In patient’s meals (menu needs, food safety, nutrition, etc.) or elsewhere (sale to staff, on-site farmers market, sale in local grocer / retail, donation to emergency food provider)
- …the best program / project model?
Through a dot-mocracy, following discussion of the various options: volunteer-led; social enterprise with on-staff farmer and/or volunteer coordinator; partnership with a private farmer, a community organization, or a non-profit; a Community garden. What are the operational implications of different models
12:00 – 12:30 Lunch and Site mapping session (Material: large map, mylar, markers)
Available today, from Health Environments Research & Design Journal, a new article: “Shared Opportunities on Institutional Lands: On-Site Food Production, Its Benefits, Barriers, and Opportunities“, by Irena Knezevic, Phil Mount, and Chantal Clement.
Shared Opportunities on Institutional Lands: On-Site Food Production, Its Benefits, Barriers, and Opportunities
Aim: This article outlines preliminary findings of a 3-year project that explored on-site food pro- duction on institutional properties, primarily healthcare facilities. Background: There are growing pressures on healthcare facilities to improve their food offerings and incorporate food gardens into their health programs. While several healthcare facilities produce food on-site, there are few studies that explore opportunities, capacities, and institutional barriers related to on-site food production. Methods: The study employed mixed methods including historical review, case studies, surveys, interviews, pilot garden projects, and Geographic Information System mapping. The number of par- ticipating institutions varied by method. Results: Benefits associated with on-site food production can be health, economic, environmental, and social. There are also institutional barriers including administrative roadblocks, perceived obstacles, and the difficulty in quantitatively, measuring the qualitatively documented benefits. Conclusions: The benefits of food gardens far outweigh the challenges. On-site food production has tremendous potential to improve nutrition for staff and patients, offer healing spaces, better connect institutions with the communities in which they are located, and provide the long-professed benefits of gardening for all involved—from therapeutic benefits and outdoor physical activities to developing skills and social relationships in ways that few other activities do.
Insights on systems thinking, pedagogy covering the basics of the program, videos from the inmates, and documented research and results—this is a must-read for those interested in the power of food production as rehabilitation and therapy, from the inside out, from the soil to the cell. This chapter is part of Beyond Prison—a large, freely accessible online volume that captures important new approaches to rehabilitation in a system that has mastered incarceration.
Over the last decade the garden program has become a fixture in San Quentin’s rehabilitation courses and has proven to be a successful measure to reduce recidivism. A 2011 tally of 117 garden program participants who were paroled between 2003 and 2009 found that less than 10% returned to prison or jail. Waitkus estimates that this saved California taxpayers around $54M. In California—the state with the most incarcerated individuals in the country—the rate of re-offense is remarkably high. Currently, there are 112,300 inmates doing time, with 13,500 released every month. But 61% of these former inmates return to prison within three years.
“The guys in the program have so many Aha! moments when they learn how growing food and creating gardens can be a solution for healing many systems: social systems, food systems and environmental systems.”