Ray-Cam Senior ProgramRay‐Cam ‘My World In a Garden – Sister Wall’  in coordination with Arms Wide Open

To construct a vertical garden that will support education for the children at the Ray–‐ Cam Cooperative Centre as well as providing a source of fresh vegetables and fruits to support the children and their families through the Ray–‐Cam food program. The vertical wall consists of a series of ‘cages’ that each hold 40–‐50 plant containers using recycled 2–‐litre pop bottles to grow the plants in. the ‘cages’ are seated in a base pouted concrete foundation secured to a welded metal frame embedded in the foundation. There will be a total of approximately 2,100 plants housed in the wall including both sides of the wall.

In the initial project, based on the wall already constructed in Bergnek, South Africa, My Arms Wide Open is proposing to build three identical live walls as food walls that will use both vegetable and fruit plants in place of the regular plants used in the original design. One is located in the small and remote community of Bergnek, Limpopo, South Africa. Another in the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada at the Ray–‐Cam Community Centre and the third, a mirror of the Bergnek and Ray–‐Cam live food walls will be located in the Town of Cradock, Eastern Cape, South Africa. The Vancouver living vertical garden, like its sister walls in South Africa, will bring focus to community, food security and family. In Vancouver, My Arms Wide Open proposes to build the garden in collaboration with the Ray–‐Cam Co–‐operative Centre supported by a grant received from the Vancouver Foundation, at a location located o the Ray–‐Cam Community Centre property with access to students from the Centre and the local Elementary and High schools. Partners in this project include Vancouver City, Rain City Strategies, Urban Seed Project/Strathcona 1890, Twin Lions Contracting, Cause We Care Foundation, Streetohome Foundation and the Ismaili Muslim community of B.C.
The plants grown in the garden wall will be chosen based on local culture and community needs. The children, and their caregivers who attend the library and community center each day, will maintain the garden year round. During the spring and summer growing seasons, the garden will generate multiple harvests as well as a limited number of harvests in the autumn and winter seasons. The fresh vegetables harvested will support both Ray–‐ Cam’s ongoing food program as well as their own community food bank. A portion of each harvest during the growing season will be canned or frozen to augment fall and winter food requirements. During the fall and winter, the garden’s bottles will not all be used for vegetables and fruits and will be replaced with suitable plants to maintain the wall during the off–‐season and allow for preparation of new vegetable seedlings for the spring. The vine–‐type vegetables and evergreens we will also have growing on the wall during each of the seasons also maintain the wall coverage. In addition to the fruit plants grown in the bottles, we intend to plant several fruit trees around the wall to support the surrounding community’s need for fresh fruit. The fundamental emphasis, however, is on the educational opportunities that the garden and its supporting activities offer for the children and youth of the Vancouver Downtown Eastside. The project will create collaboration and a sense of ownership across the community – ownership by the children who will work in the garden; their families, as a result of their own children’s involvement; and other families in the community who will benefit from the garden’s harvests. The intention is for this project to inspire other children and youth within the community to take similar steps and spawn additional Vertical Food Wall Systems across the community. The ultimate goal of each vertical garden is to turn it into a community enterprise, providing fresh fruit and vegetables at low cost to community members. Although this aspect is relatively longer term, a part of the program for each of the sister walls will include teaching other youth from within the community how to establish their own ‘mini–‐walls’.
The benefits of the project include: • Addresses food security challenges in each community by providing a sustainable fresh vegetable and fruit food source • Supports the children and youth in each community by engaging them directly in the projects. As a Food Security education and learning program, 12–‐20 students from the local schools and Ray–‐Cam will be involved working approximately 2 hours a day on the garden • Transfers skills around vegetable and fruit growing, business skills and community engagement and capacity building • Engages the community across generations • Creates a model and funding for community based enterprises built around food growing and harvesting • Creates an opportunity, over the long term, to employ 3–‐5 FTE positions in each community working with the youth in the community.
Working in teams, the children and youth in each community will be responsible for helping plant, maintain and harvest the Vertical Food Walls. Youth who have participated in and completed the Iziko Labahlali Program will lead the teams. Collaborating with partners like the Urban Seed Project, Rain City Strategies and others to construct the walls and develop curricula, My Arms Wide Open will develop a full maintenance plan and curriculum for the youth to learn and work from in supporting and maintaining their Vertical Food Wall garden. A teacher’s guide will also be developed. The education and functions the team members will receive and perform include: • Education about growing and tending vegetables and fruits in an urban environment • Supporting building of initial walls by preparing the seedlings • Preparing the 2–‐litre pop bottles for use in the wall including the soil preparation and seedling plantings • Tending the plants as they grow with water and fertilizer • Understanding the watering system and maintaining it • Replacing any damaged or dead plants as needed • Harvesting fruit and vegetables from the individual plants and the surrounding trees (as they mature) • Cleaning and packing harvested food for use in the food bank or for sale to local residents • Switching plants seasonally as required • Maintaining the wall structure, under adult supervision from members of Ray–‐ Cam staff and the Bergnek and Cradock communities.
Each of the garden walls, in their current design, allow for a total of 1,824 individual plastic pop bottle ‘plants’ (although more can be added depending on the final design and requirements in the communities). This creates an opportunity for the Ray–‐Cam Community Centre wall to create a funding source for both communities subsequent to raising the funds to build the wall. This is a non–‐profit community project designed to create a direct benefit for the community and its members through the project, the food produced and donations received each year. Utilizing an integrated marketing campaign, My Arms Wide Open, in collaboration with Ray–‐Cam, intends to ‘sell’ each of these plant containers in the Ray–‐ Cam Community Centre Wall for an annual donation of $50 a year with a 4–‐YEAR commitment. This will generate further benefits outside of the food harvested from the Garden wall. For each donation of a plant container in the Ray–‐Cam Community Centre Wall, the donor will also be credited with a container in the Bergnek and Cradock, South Africa walls. By selling all of the containers in the Ray–‐Cam Community Centre Wall, the total of the donations collected from the sale of the plants is estimated to be $91,200 per year. The gross proceeds will be split 50/50 between Ray–‐Cam and My Arms Wide Open to support their respective members in establishing other community initiatives and support of the Live Food Walls. My Arms Wide open is a Federally Registered Charity and can issue donation receipts for tax purposes. In the United States My Arms Wide Open partners with GlobalGiving.org to issue tax receipts for American Residents as well as provide receipts in a number of other countries.
We anticipate the walls will be designed in an arc or “S” shape and will be 46’ long x 7’ 2” high at one end starting from 3’ 5” high at the other. The design will allow younger children to tend to the lower part of the garden and older youth to maintain the higher areas. A 1’ high concrete footing will support the frame and a number of individual ‘cages’ with divided slots, each of which will house a plant in a cut/modified plastic 2–‐litre pop bottle. The slots are on both sides of the wall as well as on the ends of the wall. The wall is populated with plant containers in 5 stages 7–‐10 days apart so that once the wall is established, 20% of the wall is harvested each week rotating across the wall. Each wall also includes a screen system at the top of each wall to protect against harsh sun or frost depending on the season.
At this point we are open to the best location in terms of planning on the Ray–‐Cam property. We would prefer to be able to locate the project with clear sight to public viewing at the corner of property at the Hasting and Campbell intersection, however we understand this may not be suitable.