One recent evening, I turned to the shelf in our living room that houses back issues of The Countryman and picked one at random.
In this remarkable book, farmer/activist Michael Ableman tells the captivating story of the creation of Sole Food, a community farm started in 2009 in the parking lot of the Astoria Hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Sole Food’s aims are to provide meaningful employment for the area’s hard-to-employ residents and to operate a commercially viable farm.
Santropol Roulant’s meals-on-wheels program, servicing mobility-restricted individuals, has reached a beautiful level of integration now that they've added an organic farm operation to supply vegetables for their program. The farm fulfills the organization’s social mission and supports the development of aspiring young farmers, generating sustainable returns on small plots of land.
Our food system is broken and profit-driven corporations are to blame. With no magic bullet in sight to such a complex problem, urban organic agriculture will have to be part of the solution.
Among the manicured lawns edged with rhododendrons and ornamental grasses, one front yard stands out with rows of arugula, spinach and tomatoes. The grass is confined to the periphery of the yard.
Clark inspired generations of farmers since he settled in New Brunswick during the 70’s. He lived as an example, proving what hard work and principle could achieve.
In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, a new model of urban agriculture is creating employment opportunities for inner city residents, greening the streets and improving food security in the neighbourhood.