UBC Undergraduate Research

Developing Strategies to Promote Diversity in Food Garden Production : Action for Nature in a Changing Climate Lopez Campomanes, Franco; Kazemeini, Sahar; Li, Anica; Pappo, Joanna; Yeong, Wei Yan


Biodiversity underpins the capacity of our food systems to sustain a massive amount of food production for the world’s population, without having to damage the diversity of animals, plants and microorganisms at genetic, species and ecosystem levels (FAO, 2019). In the context of UBC’s Vancouver campus, food systems biodiversity is an emerging topic in larger discussion of campus sustainability. In conjunction with UBC’s Climate Crisis in Urban Biodiversity (CCUB)’s mission to accelerate action for climate change and biodiversity loss, there was a need to gain an understanding of the UBC community’s perceptions of campus food biodiversity. Ultimately, our study aims to involve different actors in the campus food system to increase community action and engagement towards more biodiverse food garden production and culinary menu options within the UBC food system. Applying Community-Based Action Research principles, three main surveys were designed and distributed to students, community gardeners and chefs on campus. These surveys aim to comprehend the different elements of campus food biodiversity, including the challenges and barriers of increasing food diversity, consumption behaviors of students, and to identify the motivations for different groups to enhance food diversity. Through a series of primary and secondary data collection, the concept of campus food biodiversity was defined by merging the unique perspectives of students, chefs, and community gardeners at UBC. Our results show that students and chefs agree that UBC Food Services currently offers a diverse selection of foods, and community gardeners currently grow an average of 0-19 crops in their campus plots. However, participants identified that some of the main barriers to increasing their involvement in food biodiversity were developing peoples’ interest, limited time or access to space, and knowledge-related barriers. Participants commonly identified better marketing, building strong communication networks, and increasing opportunities to engage in events as potential strategies for overcoming these barriers. Community gardeners, students and chefs defined Campus Food Biodiversity (CFB) in terms of food, community and environment; and their perspectives were used to create a unifying holistic concept that will be used when creating our Food Systems Biodiversity Engagement Toolkit (FSBET). Identifying connections between the roles of community gardeners, chefs, and students on campus is necessary for envisioning what a biodiverse-friendly food system looks like, and how it can contribute to community resilience. Such an inclusive definition of campus food biodiversity has the potential to advance biodiversity initiatives by merging multiple perspectives and expanding the focus from food production to menu offerings and consumption practices. Based on our findings we came up with recommendations for our clients and other campus stakeholders to enhance culinary diversity and food garden diversity. Recommendations include establishing a biodiverse food profile and UBC Food Services marketing strategy, as well as a Seeds Lending Library biodiversity program and collaborative outreach strategy. Further, we have proposed some long-term goals that can be implemented in policy such as the Food Services Procurement Guidelines and the UBC Climate Action Plan 2030 currently in development. As research on food systems biodiversity is still in its early stages, there is a call for more research, monitoring and evaluation to be done to build on our findings and support the development of biodiversity-friendly strategies on campus. 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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