Each year in South Osborne, land is converted to edible landscapes and hundreds of people are fed using the principles of permaculture.
“The permaculture concept is ‘earth share, people share, and fair share.’ So a portion of what we grow is always donated to, preferably, people that need it,” explains Tim Stuart, a Board member with Sustainable South Osborne Community Cooperative (SSOCC).
SSOCC’s Permaculture Commons is a series of community gardens in the Riverview and Fort Rouge communities. Anyone is welcome to join for a share in the harvest. But the project involves more than community gardens.
There’s a hands-on course though the University of Manitoba that combines sociology, urban agriculture, food sovereignty and research methods. There are also community potlucks, a food share co-op, and an annual harvest dinner fundraiser. Plus, food grown through the garden clubs is sold to local restaurants and donated to those who need it.
The community-building aspect is especially important for SSOCC’s Vice President Rod Kueneman, who is also a Senior Scholar in the Faculty of Sociology at the University of Manitoba.
“That’s a very pragmatic kind of a goal, to teach people to grow food. But I want people to know each other. I want them to share their knowledge, share their tools. Make decisions and solve our problems. Really, we’re trying to build strong, local communities. And I think we’re having increasing success at that.”
It’s been a learning process since the project began in 2009, says Kueneman. Now other community groups, such as Spence Neighbourhood Association and Ma Mawi, are coming out to learn how they can utilize permaculture techniques in their own communities.
Permaculture works with nature to increase yield, minimize work and heal the land.
“Permaculture, in very basic terms, is bio-mimicry. It’s copying what nature already does,” says Mr. Stuart. “Some crops, like grains, pretty much require monoculture. [Permaculture is] the idea of companion planting: putting plants together that help each other to grow and protect each other with more symbiotic relationships.”
Experience the gardens in 360 video!
In 2016, Sustainable South Osborne Community Cooperative, in partnership with Food Matters Manitoba, received a $20,000 grant from The Winnipeg Foundation in support of the South Osborne Permaculture Commons. The grant was drawn from the hundreds of Community Building Funds held at The Foundation, such as the Jim and Kathleen Graham Fund, the Grace and Casey Kraayeveld Fund, and the Israel Joseph Dreman Fund.
This story is featured in The Winnipeg Foundation’s Fall 2016 issue of Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on The Foundation’s Publications page.