Posts Tagged ‘urban farmers’

Taking a Closer Look at the Garden

Last week we attended the Vancouver Urban Farming Society AGM, reconnecting with a handful of local urban farmers to kick off the society’s mission: promoting urban farming and growing its viability in the city of Vancouver. I often get caught up in the excitement of working with such a passionate group and have to remind myself that there ARE people who don’t even know that this network of people exists; that don’t know their farmers or where their food comes from!

It got me thinking how easy it is to be disconnected from something as crucial as FOOD. It’s important to pause and peel back the layers of the complex systems of which we’re a part!

Yesterday I was in the garden, working furiously to keep up with kale going to seed, meticulously picking the bad leaves off of our plants and planting more lettuce to ensure we have a crop for our upcoming farmers markets. It wasn’t until I slowed down to take a closer look at what was happening that I was reminded what a miracle a growing, producing garden is.

Bees are important pollinators for our food supply!

Bees were rampant around our berry bushes yesterday, playing multiple, important functions in the garden. Thanks to our buzzing friends, many plants are pollinated and can thus reproduce! In fact, one third of food plants depend on the services of pollinators. Bees account for 80% of all insect pollination contributing to the human diet! Plus, the local honey that they produce can even be used to treat allergies! But they’re not the only ones working hard to help us produce our food…

Ladybugs are another amazing beneficial insect. These speckled beauties are actually predatory beetles and chow down on harmful bugs like aphids, preventing those pests from destroying our crops. Fact: Some ladybugs will eat up to 5,000 aphids in their lifetime! I say bon appetit my friends!

Ladybugs play multiple roles that enhance the functionality of the garden.

As urban farmers who are sometimes appreciated but often overlooked, we are grateful to have the opportunity to educate our community about our other friends working hard in the garden. This summer, we’ll be teaching kids about bees, ladybugs, worms and more at our urban agriculture camp, Passport to Permaculture. Campers spend the week outdoors, exploring the multifunctional relationships that create a thriving ecosystem in the garden, from a soil safari to a session all about bees! Click here for registration information.

So take the time to lean in and have a closer look at the plants growing in your garden. There’s a lot more going on than you might expect!

The Power of Youth

Tyee students sell sprouts, local eggs and carrots at today’s pocket market to fund their school’s garden!

Back in school and I’m reminded that youth leadership is the driving force behind many successful social and environmental movements today.

Today I’m writing from Tyee Elementary, where students are leading a pocket market sale for their parents and teachers. This is part of a garden education program that we are partnering on with Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company. Students learn about the importance of our local food system and work together to create products for the market sale. Proceeds fund Tyee’s garden, which is underway with raised beds in their schoolyard.

Kids ages 7 to 12 lined the market tables today, beaming with smiles and proudly selling their products to parents and teachers, all the while becoming young social entrepreneurs in a movement towards a more local food system. What’s on sale today? Food in a jar, mason bee hives, potato kits, seed bombs, seed sprout kits and more!

We are facilitating leadership training in anti-discrimination and anti-racism for citizenU, a city-funded program. Our crew enjoyed the sun this weekend during training!

These students have demonstrated that you can never be too young to make positive change, or even lead a movement! All over the country, youth are turning their passion for local food into action, working with their communities to create more localized food systems. This isn’t just a movement; it’s a way of life!

I am sincerely inspired whenever I hear about a new initiative or read about a fellow young urban farmer in the newspaper. Emi Do (Yummy Yards), an urban farmer about my age, was recently featured in a front page article in the Vancouver Sun describing a push towards policy changes favorable to urban agriculture. Just yesterday, I stumbled upon an article about two young Americans filming a documentary about urban farms across the United States. And today, just a few minutes ago, I received a notice from an Environmental Youth Alliance coordinator regarding a group of teenage youth (GrassRoutes) who are cycling across Canada over the summer to empower thousands of youth about environmental leadership.

And The World In A Garden? Among other things, we’re partnering with citizenU, a city-funded program that provides high school aged youth with leadership training in anti-discrimination and anti-racism so that we can celebrate diversity and build more resilient communities in this beautiful city!

All across the world, the local food movement has taken root. Its popularity AND success are on the rise. Farm to Cafeteria programs in schools, youth-run gardens, young urban farmers, social entrepreneurs in the making, young filmmakers and more! So can young people change the world? You bet they can- they already are!