Rob Moquin joined the CGRF as a Master of Natural Resources Management student in September 2012 following the completion of his undergraduate degree at the University of Winnipeg. Prior to enrolling in grad school, Rob worked with the CGRF as an undergraduate research assistant on the KACL Community Garden project in 2012.
Rob’s thesis builds on this work, as he looked at the role that community gardens play in fostering cross-cultural collaboration, understanding, and citizen social and ecological engagement in Kenora. Specifically, Rob looked at how community gardens impact social connectedness and relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community members, what gardeners learn about the environment and ecological processes through gardening, and how this knowledge affects gardeners’ behaviours as citizens outside the community garden space.
Rob’s thesis research, conducted in partnership with the Kenora Association for Community Living, highlights participants’ experiences of community-building through community gardening. Photovoice was the main method of data collection, supported by participant observation and follow-up interviews. Through photovoice, twelve participants of various abilities and cultural identities worked together to photograph and describe their garden community, prescribe areas for actionable change, and communicate their results in a public exhibit. Narrative analysis of photovoice, interview, and observation data shows strong evidence of bonding among family and friends through gardening, as well as a desire to enhance social bridges. Current and would-be gardeners are seeking ways to get connected, learn from each other, and collaborate on building vibrant social-ecological communities. Drawing on the expert opinion of participants, this research celebrates successes while encouraging greater investment in urban gardening and garden networks to improve connectivity and resource sharing in Kenora.
Rob produced a number of products from his research, including his thesis, a summary handout of his research, and a Photovoice photography exhibit. You can access his thesis, its summary, and an e-book compilation of the Photovoice project (click on the book’s cover photo) here: