This project aimed to build a stand near the entrance to a Vancouver Community garden where excess harvest could be shared with the local community and users of the busy park in which the garden is located. The concept floated around the garden over the years with comments like, “There’s so much waste in the garden. Is there a way to better share it?” Every summer the cries of, “Another zucchini?! My fridge is full; who do I give this to?” made me think there should be a better way to reduce waste and use excess harvest.
Because this installation would be in a community garden, getting feedback from the garden Board of Directors was important. We discussed what aspects were important to the design of the stand and all agreed that it should be: sturdy, small (< 65cm wide), removable in the winter, located near entrance to the garden, and designed to discourage alternative uses (ie. book library, clothing donation…etc).
My partner has a background in design, so his input and skills were invaluable. We started by researching and visiting existing stands to get an idea of design elements that met the important characteristics. Then came some pencil drawings to explore other ideas and CAD drawings on our home computer. We built a small cardboard model (using the offerings of our recycling bin) to get a better feel for the dimensions in real life. Following another consultation with other gardeners, we made final changes to streamline the design, updated the CAD model and then were finally ready to purchase supplies. The planning aspect of this project took the vast majority of the time, however it was time well spent to ensure a smooth installation and to ensure that the structure would work well.
Due to the constraints of living in an apartment, building something of this scale is challenging without turning the whole apartment into a workshop for weeks. We contacted an acquaintance who had a workshop to see if there was any chance if we could use his workshop for a few days. Very quickly we had the key to the shop (!) and carte blanche to use as needed. It impressed on me that sometimes, we all need to ask for help. The worst that can happen is the answer is “No”.
While designing the stand, our only car was totaled. Getting lumber was going to be a challenge! One trip to the hardware store ended up with 2×4’s strapped to a bike and pedalled 30 minutes, uphill, home!
There were many things learned by undertaking this project, including:
• Just how expensive hardware can be
• How to work with chain and mount it to a wooden structure
• When making custom hardware, how the forming block reacts to heat
• How to carry a load of 2×4’s from Home Depot on a bike
• That I still remembered some high school math skills to calculate angles and dimensions of a triangle