Growing to Eat Better

How can the library better support the Hamilton community through educational initiatives that promote food literacy?

Project Description: The Hamilton Public Library is working to closely align with City initiatives and strategies. The City of Hamilton released a food strategy in 2018 in response to growing food scarcity concerns. It is estimated that families will begin to see unprecedented rises in the cost of groceries in the near future. For example, on average groceries are expected to rise 3.5% in 2019 which equates to $411 per year for the average Canadian family of four. Furthermore, the area that we will see the greatest rise in costs is the one that is most crucial to a healthy lifestyle - fresh produce. Vegetables are estimated to raise in price by up to 6%, therefore fellow community members that are in vulnerable populations will be most affected by these rises. We're hoping to further research and understand the consequences that this could have on living a healthy lifestyle for families. Southern Ontario is in a unique position as our growing seasons are longer and more productive than other regions and therefore we are hoping to help educate local families on the benefits of growing your own foods. We are working to build a large garden bed on casters that will live within the library. Local youth (ages 16-22) from a neighboring group home will help to take care of this garden and take whatever is harvested to prepare and eat at home. We are also hoping to do other educational programming with this garden so help and strategies to market and promote the garden would also be beneficial. We believe that this project could benefit from the assistance of students in many different avenues including: research as to the impacts of healthy eating and growing your own produce, marketing and outreach to expose the project to the broader Hamilton community and/or the construction and maintenance of the actual garden or consultation on best growing practices.

City Staff:  Alyssa Seul, Community Youth Librarian


Joanne Smith - Mohawk College

Zobia Jawed - McMaster University

Department: Health, Wellness and Fitness - Mohawk College, Masters in Engineering - McMaster University

Students: 155 (Nutrition), 4 (Engineering)

Course: HLTH 10086 - Nutrition, SEP 700-Masters in Engineering

Deliverable(s): 1. Research and report in other community based gardens and how they operate. Provide insight on the types of vegetables/fruits being grown and their success. Talk to other organizations and report on best growing practices etc. 2. Build educational programming opportunities with the garden (to be run either by the students or by library staff) 3. Marketing - how we let people know about the garden. Suggest different marketing strategies for both the nutritional programming opportunities and the garden in general. 4. Toolkit- combine and organize your work into a easy to use toolkit that can be shared with other libraries or organizations.

Location: Citywide Hamilton, Hamilton Public Library and Ward 15

City Strategy Priority: Community Engagement and Participation, Healthy and Safe Communities, Clean and Green, Culture and Diversity