Students explore practical solutions to food security

Social Sciences

- Anne MacLaurin & Nicki Gjerdalen

Class tour of Vic West with Patty Parkhouse. Credit: Cam Owens
Class tour of Vic West with Patty Parkhouse. Credit: Cam Owens

UVic students took to the streets and explored urban gardens in May as part of an experiential geography course, Food and the City. The condensed course, taught by geographer Cam Owens, uses Victoria-area food security initiatives to explore sustainable urban food systems.

“The course facilitates a mindset shift away from how we are taught gardens are supposed to look,” says student Rebecca Rausch.

Food and the City is co-taught with UVic alumnus, Chris Hildreth, a social entrepreneur with TOPSOIL Innovative Urban Agriculture.

In my degree, I learned about all these pressing global environmental issues, many linked to food systems, but left feeling overwhelmed about what to do. In this course, we wanted to show students local, practical solutions that they could undertake.

—Chris Hildreth, UVic alumnus and founder of TOPSOIL Innovative Urban Agriculture

Over the course of three weeks, students experienced first-hand community agriculture projects such as Hildreth’s TOPSOIL, Mason Street Farm, The Compost Education Centre and the VicWest Banfield Commons garden. During a time of increasing food security issues, the course teaches food cultivation can come in many different shapes and sizes.

Class tour of Vic West with Patty Parkhouse
Class trip to Mason Street Farm. Credit: Jessie Erickson

“Along with learning about the environmental benefits of local food, students learned about important social dimensions,” says Owens. “We were thrilled to have Jared Qwustenuxun Williams from Cowichan First Nation share his knowledge about traditional foods and Indigenous food sovereignty.”

“We also heard from UVic alumna Boma Brown, who is Nigerian-Canadian, to explain the importance of cultural food security and about ensuring diasporic communities have access to their foods,” adds Owens.

Food and the City is an opportunity for students to learn about urban agriculture and finding answers to food security right in their own community.


In this story

Keywords: sustainability, community, agriculture, student life, geography

People: Cam Owens, Nicki Gjerdalen

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