UBC Undergraduate Research

Community Engagement : Sprouts’ History Kuo, Hilary; MacLennan, Sydney; Tang, Yu Qing (Sunnie); Wanalo, Mercy


Sprouts, a student-run cafe, food store, and club, is currently involving hundreds of UBC students in providing sustainable food systems to the campus community through their values and initiatives. To mark the re-opening of Sprouts’ main cafe and store in September 2018, a two-way community engagement art piece has been collaboratively created to tell the unique story of how Sprouts became Sprouts, while uncovering a method to continue data collection for the organization moving forwards. A Community Based Action Research methodology was used to facilitate ongoing, relevant, and informative research while including community stakeholders and researchers alike in the research activities. Both primary and secondary data collection methods were used to draw a more holistic picture of Sprouts’ history, and to include narratives of the direct beneficiaries of the organization. For secondary data a literature review was conducted along with an analysis of historical records kept by the organization as well as archival data held by the Alma Mater Society of UBC. In person unstructured interviews were conducted with five members of the Sprouts community. From the data collected, we were able to develop a comprehensive timeline of Sprouts’ history starting from its inception and running through to current events. In order to create a more efficient method of data collection in the future, shared folders were created with categorized items that provide interesting information that were photographed during the investigation of the historical and archival data. The interviews, along with a more complete understanding of the history of Sprouts, contributed valuable insights in how the art piece should be designed and what key characteristics it should have. There is opportunity to create a method of record keeping that embraces collaboration by creating a platform where resources can be uploaded and shared. In using something that allows different stakeholders to contribute, the hope is that records will be personalized to provide the qualitative stories that make history so valuable. Ideally, a shared space will also help increase transparency between club executives as they change year to year as well as the community at large. The art piece needed to be created in a way that was collaborative and showcased the values of Sprouts. As such, we used only recycled materials, and designed it to be colourful and inviting. The painting took place at the Annual General Meeting where many Sprouts members contributed to its creation. In hosting more events like the group painting, we encourage Sprouts to continue collaborative projects that will foster a sense of community within the organization’s vast network. Finally, it is encouraged that further research be undertaken to investigate other ways of engaging community and making spaces unique and welcoming. We encourage Sprouts to look to creating more partnerships with other key stakeholders on the university campus and advocate for other sustainable initiatives. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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