South Vancouver urban farming program for low-income families

Initially published for the Langara Voice March 22, 2012, in print and online

Vancouver’s urban farming program can be found, just on Langara’s doorstep.

Located at 57th and Cambie, Growing Eden is a project where 12 low-income families, including those on disability stipends, as well as new immigrants to Canada get together and learn how to grow food and cook healthy meals.
 Funded by the United Way, Growing Eden is based out of the George Pearson Center in South Vancouver and is connected to the Farmers on 57th urban garden project. This is the second year of the program that runs from about April to October.
A family focus
“We have 12 families that come, and they bring their children and we give them a plot of land and teach them how to grow food. Then what we do is we harvest that food from our gardens and we make a lunch with that,” said Aimee Taylor, horticultural therapist and co-founder of the program.
Growing Eden put up flyers around South Vancouver and in local housing co-ops to help find people who would like to become involved.

Growing Eden encourages whole families to get involved with food production. Photo by Aimee Taylor

The group meets weekly and encourages new participants to come to a session and find out more about sustainable sources of food and healthy meals.
While the program is based around food and growing sustainable sources of food, many families bring their children for an educational and fun weekly outing.
Arts and crafts, education are also focuses
There are also arts and crafts activities, and a community kitchen where a fresh meal is prepared using some of the produce grown through the project. This meal feeds about 35 people each week.

Fruits of Growing Edens’ labour. Photo by Aimee Taylor

“We also have the ability to educate through this program,” said Taylor. Participants learn about food security and urban food production.
“People come from different angles, they either want to learn about food or maybe food is difficult to come by,” said Taylor.
Funded by United Way
Growing Eden received a 3-year grant from United Way to front the cost of creating a garden with a play area as well as a greenhouse. “We try to create a beautiful garden,” said Taylor.
Bob Perry, a computer science student at Langara agrees urban farming is a good idea, possibly even here at Langara. “It would be great if it were implemented properly. We would need to make it efficient and a high-density thing that uses all the space it has. Farming techniques have come a long way and I think it could eventually work for anywhere that wanted to try it.”
There are still spaces available for families who are interested in taking part in this program.

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