Metro Vancouver, B.C. – A new mobile app that helps people grow their own food could change the world ─ or at least that’s what the Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) alumna who helped develop it is hoping.
Harpreet Bains, who grew up on a farm in South Surrey, is one of three innovators behind My Green Space, which became available in both the Canadian and American App Store this past weekend. Developed by Michael Moll, Harp Dhinsa and Bains, My Green Space is a digital garden planner that helps individuals create their very own garden in any space, from an urban community garden plot to a table in a downtown loft or on the window ledge of a 20-storey highrise.
It provides a step-by-step how-to for urban gardening, from mapping a virtual garden and identifying which plants can grow according to location, sunlight and season, to how to care for them and where to buy the supplies to do so (locally, of course). The app also offers daily guidance from a master gardener who reminds users when to plant, water and harvest all-year round.
“I believe that every garden makes a difference; it brings us one step closer to creating a sustainable local food system,” said Bains, who graduated from KPU with a degree in psychology.
Bains witnessed from a young age how the simple act of growing food builds community.
“Growing up on a farm, community was something I took for granted,” she said. “I didn’t recognize how much growing food grows people and community. Every garden changes lives.”
As current past chair, in her sixth year as director of the KPU Alumni Association and as a five-year member of the university senate, Bains is the quintessential KPU alumna. Before graduating with a bachelor in psychology, she explored course offerings in almost every faculty.
“I wanted to be well-rounded, and KPU gave me the opportunity,” she explained.
After completing her master’s level program in project management, Bains wanted to apply her combined learning and leadership toward a social impact venture.
“It had to be global, sustainable and purpose-driven,” she said. So Bains, Moll and Dhinsa came together on values and launched My Green Space.
Over the last year, the trio continued to develop their app, and its addition to the App Store last weekend was the proverbial cherry on top for the team.
“Our current food system is broken, with far too much global dependency,” said Bains. “Creating stronger, more resiliant local food systems is one of many solutions. Urban gardening is already on the rise, people want to be connected to their food, eating real fresh food again, knowing where it comes from. We wanted to be a part of that solution, using technology to empower and propel this final wave. We’re making it easier to do, and more abundant, in a cool and fun way.”
My Green Space is free to download. Mobile users will receive additional services such as push notifications for when it’s time to water and other customized gardening information. While new features will continue to be added, the app is free for now because for Bains, ultimately, her goal is simply to help people grow their own food.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has served the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 200,000 learners. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs in business, liberal arts, design, health, science and horticulture, trades and technology, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 120 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates, citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at kpu.ca.