2013 PFF Community Leadership Fellows McGill University:
Erik Delaquis and Lauren Pochereva
Erik Delaquis, Community-Driven Plant Material Improvement for Sustainable Livelihoods in West Africa, Senegal and The Gambia
Erik will be graduating from McGill in summer 2013 with an M.Sc. in plant science focused on breeding and evaluating biomass energy crops. He grew up working in fruit orchards in B.C. and has since acquired many years of experience working on experimental projects with the University of Victoria, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, and most recently here at McGill. In 2011 he also completed a 6-month internship in Senegal and The Gambia, where he gained valuable insights into West African agricultural systems and found the inspiration for his current project.
Project Description: Erik’s project seeks to improve food security in rural villages in Senegal and The Gambia by establishing improved plant materials centers with 2 locally-based NGOs. These centers will be supplied with the most adapted and improved varieties of fruit, vegetable and multipurpose trees from the surrounding region. These learning farms will function as training centers on topics ranging from seed saving to basic grafting and variety selection skills. When the project expires the farms will remain as income generation options for the partner NGOs, while the transplantation of the improved trees and crops into local villages will provide a lasting benefit. AVISU is a village support NGO which has been serving the Kaur region of The Gambia for over 25 years through agricultural extension, literacy circles and women’s groups. CLCOP is a Senegalese farmers’ co-op based in Wack N’Gouna, Senegal. CLCOP support 75 members groups including 3500 small-scale farmers.
Lauren Pochereva, Ça pousse!, Montreal, QC.
After graduating from McGill with a BA in World Religions, Lauren returned to pursue a Diploma in Environment. She has worked and volunteered with environmental NGOs around Montreal including the Fondation David Suzuki, Action Communiterre, and Alternatives. During this time she became interested in the environmental and ethical dimensions of food and food systems and has been increasingly involved in the Montreal urban agriculture movement. In 2012 she was an inaugural McGill PFF Community Leadership Fellow and implemented the St. Monica School Garden Program at a local elementary school. Lauren believes gardens are an important site of learning and sharing. They promote healthy living habits and create vibrant social spaces for the community. She believes that sharing knowledge and making improvements in our environment can bring people together and help create social and political change.
Project Description: Ça pousse! is an educational garden service and the newest program for Action Communiterre, a local non-profit organization and leader in urban agriculture and food security initiatives in Montreal since 1997. It is an innovative social economy service that combines edible landscaping and educational programming for schools and other social institutions in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and surrounding Montreal neighborhoods. Through the creation of more educational gardens Ça pousse! will empower participants to make positive changes in their lives and the community. Gardens increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for gardeners and their families and promote a healthier and more active lifestyle. Additionally, urban gardens provide aesthetic green spaces in the community, creating dynamic sites for positive social interactions. They contribute to the preservation and improvement of local biodiversity, and offer ecosystem services such as reduced rainwater runoff, air purification, a reduction of the urban heat island effect, etc.