If you were asked, how can global inequalities be addressed? You might instantly think about solutions that focus on income and wealth. But in order to address inequalities, we often need to seek out solutions of more foundational needs: non-monetary dimensions of education, health, social connections and civic engagement. At Enactus NSCC Ivany Campus, we looked around at our neighbourhoods, to where our fellow students lived and thought how can we work together to build a foundation for equality?
As we looked at dimensions of education and health, it was clear to us that we cannot work towards income and wealth, when people are still hungry. The Halifax Food Policy Alliance released a Food Counts report for our regional municipality and this benchmark report indicated that 20 percent of citizens in our local area experience food insecurity, which means that they can’t afford healthy or culturally appropriate food, they can’t easily access it, or both. Municipalities are at the forefront of these concerns, because of loss of agricultural land, sprawling neighbourhood designs, and lack of public transportation. In our commitment to understanding the scope of the food security challenge in our area, the team found another research project, called the Grocery Gap produced by students at Dalhousie University. In this report, it flagged the term “food desert”. “Food deserts are socially distressed neighbourhoods with relatively low average household incomes, a lack of transportation and poor access to healthy food.” Within the Halifax Regional Municipality, the community of East Preston is referred to as a food desert and is an expansive rural Black Nova Scotian community located 30 minutes east of Halifax.
How could we work with the community of East Preston on a food security solution while promoting health, education, social connections, and civic engagement?Introducing project Planting Roots, a social enterprise that uses a sell one, give one model, making garden boxes. Thanks to Northbridge Reducing Inequalities Project Accelerator, we have the money to cover the costs of the start-up materials to build our boxes. Our product is a mortise-and-tenon raised garden box based on a 17th century design, which means no nails or adhesives needed. The garden bed is 8 feet by 4 feet and can be transported flat and assembled in place. The design was important to us, and it is a clean and green design, completed connected to land. We are using reclaimed wood and have hired a local individual with a small mill to prepare the wood for the boxes.