BEd Student Michael Chen Competes in International “Climate Change-Makers Challenge”

Michael Chen, OCT (BEd student, Orillia campus) was part of a team that developed a climate change solution—entitled “Food Forests for All”—that won the “Best of the Rest” prize in the Grand Finals portion of the international Climate Change-Makers Challenge Hackathon.

The Hackathon event took place in February and March, when over 120 youth from across 15 countries and 5 continents came together at the Climate Change-Makers Challenge to build innovations to fight climate change. Each team worked over 48 hours to brainstorm, research, build, and present solutions to address climate change, and the top 12 teams were invited to the grand finals.

Michael, along with three teammates from Dalhousie University, Stanford University, and Rutgers University–New Brunswick, developed an educational website that provides resources and information on starting food forests, emphasizing Indigenous methods to help preserve the environment.

In their five-minute video pitch, Michael explains that transporting food over long distances contributes to higher carbon emissions. The team’s solution is to connect people to mobilize and start their own carbon sequestering food forests locally, while minimizing barriers such as the lack of access to space and funding, and a knowledge gap when it comes to Indigenous gardening practices.

The team’s prototype website outlines the potential of food forests to address climate change, including a guide to develop food forests and the required resources. It also features an interactive Impact Map, identifying Indigenous lands throughout Canada and a mapping of established, in progress, and proposed regions for food forests. The team plans to create a new website which will become a platform to connect Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge keepers and those interested in starting a food forest.

Michael Chen