Experiencing Vancouver’s urban farms, By Rebecca Cuttler for www.farmcityfolk.ca
Rebecca Cuttler, Executive Assistant to Joel Solomon at Renewal Partners, and an SVI and SCI Alumnae, has written an article for FarmFolk CityFolk Magazine about Vancouver’s urban farming scene. A print version of the magazine is available for free at specialty grocery and wine shops in British Columbia.
Farm Folk can Be City Folk
If you are paying attention, you might catch it out of the corner of your eye: an almost hidden half-acre where Vancouver’s urban landscape gives way to a lush market garden bursting with flowers, multi-coloured beans and deep red beets. Farmers on 57th is one of a growing number of farms situated within Vancouver’s city limits.
Karen Ageson and Tessa Wetherill are the farmers in ‘Farmers on 57th’. I’m meeting with them in a cluster of lawn chairs next to the market garden stand, and a neighbour and cSA member interrupts us. She has a small plastic bag in her hand, out of which poke some seedlings with leaves that range from green to purple to a near-blue. “Here’s the rainbow kale I was telling you about,” she says, handing it to Karen. We all take a look. Karen and Tessa have never seen this variety before.
Farmers on 57th runs a 30 member cSA program: households sign up at the beginning of each year to receive a weekly share of the farm’s harvest. cSA members come from many walks of life. Some, like the rainbow kale-grower, are gardening enthusiasts. others are busy downtown workers who didn’t know anything about local food production until recently. What they share is the fact that they all pick up a week’s worth of produce at the place where it is grown. As Wetherill explains that, “more and more they stick around, they walk through the garden, they talk to each other.” In many cases, members have had to dramatically changed their diets simply to keep up with the harvest. “I have so much respect for the amount of vegetables they eat,” says Wetherill. “We give them a large box, in the spring they’re getting just greens and greens and greens. They’re like, ‘I have to eat salad every night!’”