2015 Volunteer Orientation Highlights

Prairie Urban Farm
New volunteers at our second annual Volunteer Orientation.
We had an incredible season kickoff this past Saturday with over 60 people showing up for our Volunteer Orientation!! We broke up into groups and talked about what brought us to Prairie Urban Farm and what we were most excited to learn about. The groups spent some time brainstorming ideas related to artscaping, community engagement, education, and sustainable urban agriculture!

Volunteers have different reasons for joining Prairie Urban Farm.
We wanted to share some of the ideas that were given by the orientation volunteers.

Why do you want to volunteer with Prairie Urban Farm?
"So I can get outside to learn"
"To make friends"
"To meet the cool cat on the farm"
"Learn how to grow food myself and the benefits of having access to natural local grown produce"
"To feel more connected to nature"
"To do some gardening but not have to do it all on our own"
"Share in harvest of healthy produce"

How can we get the community involved with Prairie Urban Farm?
"Share the surplus"
"Have a harvest celebration or event"
"Posters at the schools/neighbourhood cafes"
"Sell at neighbourhood events"
"Carnival fundraiser"
"Host workshops - starting seeds, building bee houses, jam-making, pickling, cooking fresh foods"
"Workshops on how to make tea, soap scents, spice mixes"
"Workshops on how to freeze/prep/dry veggies for storage"

Kids from E4C's ArtStart programming painting a bench for Prairie Urban Farm.

How can we involve kids, youth, post-secondary students & the elderly?
"Host summer camp day trips"
"Putting some kind of 'fun' in all those gardening activities"
"Give presentations at schools and senior living complexes, then have certain days and times when elders and children/youth can garden together"
"Encourage the farm cats to hang around - kids love cats!"
"Garden tasting night - like Taste of Edmonton"
"Self directed scavenger hunt"
"Live music at the garden"

What are you most interested in learning?
"Compost that my neighbours will like"
"How to grow mushrooms"
"A little bit of everything. The best will be the A - Z in gardening, planting and taking care of fruit trees and shrubs"
"The different needs and growing times of different plants"
"Growing produce so my friends will want me on their zombie apocalypse team"
"Compost and how to grow herbs"
"Using native grasses to rehabilitate marginal soil and as a source of reducing carbon"
"Soil amending/composting"
"Pruning trees properly"

Garden Leader Iris teaching our student volunteers about the benefits of garden composting.
Sustainable Agriculture Ideas:
- Mulching with newspaper, grass, straw and cover crops.
- Rotations with legume crops
- Raise rainwater tanks with cement blocks and add hose adapter onto barrels.
- Trap snow melt with barrels or dugouts.
- Swales for passive water management.

Community Engagement Ideas:
- Monthly music 'jams'
- Mid-summer carnival fundraiser with scavenger hunt and geocaching
- Work with local chefs to use local produce at events
- School field trips
- Beginning gardening workshops
- Better signage for self-tours

Kira captures the artscaping groups ideas on paper
Art Ideas
- Colourful Wildlife Houses (bats, cats, birds, bees)
- Scarecrow Building Day
- Children in activities (hands-on, school involvement, educational)
- Reuse of objects like pallets, glass bottles
- Edible Ornaments - dried fruit or veg coated with honey and seeds for bird treat
- Shed and Pergola Plan - canvas/wood trellis and living wall within posts attached to shed - tie dye shade structure

Thank you to everyone who came out to the orientation and to our Garden Leaders for facilitating group discussions. Also, thank you to SustainSU for the reusable dishes that made our event more sustainable!

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