SOLEfood needs volunteers again

Following the inspiring efforts of nearly 100 volunteers participating in our first ‘Farm Raising’, the inner-city is gearing up to do it again!

Earlier on in the build

The SOLEfood Urban Farm Raising will take place next Sunday, November 29th. Our goal is to convert at least half of the unused parking spaces into planting beds.

An initiative of United We Can’s SOLE (Save Our Living Environment) Program, this fully functioning urban farm will provide inner-city residents with employment and community kitchens, local residents, restaurants and caterers alike access to a valuable source of local and organic food. Once complete, the hope is to make the SOLEfood Urban Farm a social hub and information source in the DTES.

A large and dedicated group is working together to meet our goal of having the farm fully operational, by Spring 2010. This effort would not have been possible without the combined efforts of United We Can, Projects in Place and Building Opportunities with Business (BOB). Other key supporters include:

Start time is 10am, but volunteers are welcome throughout the day. Please note, that in order to participate, all volunteers must register with Light refreshments will also be provided on site. For more information, contact Bryce Gauthier, 603 317 9682.

See map to SOLEfood Urban Farm

Press Release

How To Plant A Parking Lot: The SOLEfood Urban Farm Raising

You’ve heard all the bad news stories in the Downtown Eastside, now how about some good news for a change?

A diverse group of community-oriented organizations and hundreds of volunteers have been working throughout the fall in an effort to turn 5 empty lots on Hastings Street into a fully functioning urban farm in time for spring.

To achieve this goal, volunteers will be building 100 planters and 40 compost bins made from recycled pallets. Their second build event, or Urban Farm Raising, will be held this Sunday, November 29th at 10am at the corner of Hastings and Hawkes. The first event, held last month exceeded everyone’s expectations.

“We had more than one hundred volunteers come out and finish thirty planters before lunch. It blew me away.” says Bryce Gauthier director of The Projects In Place Society.

United We Can, the acclaimed Downtown Eastside non-profit that specializes in creating economic opportunities for residents on the downtown east side, is coordinating the SOLEfood effort. The Farm has been dubbed SOLEfood, after United We Can’s Save Our Living Environment initiative.

“SOLEfood will be run as a business,” says Seann Dory, Sustainability Manager at United We Can. “We hope to provide part-time jobs for 12 Downtown East Side residents, most of whom will have some kind of employment barrier that makes it hard for them to hold a full-time job.”

Building Opportunities With Business (BOB) was instrumental in bringing Projects In Place, United We Can and many other like-minded groups together, in the hope that green collar job opportunities like SOLEfood will be bring a range of social, environmental and economic improvements to the Downtown Eastside. The development of the farm came out of the Greening the Inner-city Cluster discussions which brings together business, community and public stakeholders to collaborate in the development of the local green economy.

Dory sees the farm as a way to provide, “…inner city residents with employment; and community kitchens, local residents, restaurants and caterers with access to a valuable source of local and organic food. Once complete, the hope is that SOLEfood will become not just a farm, but a social hub and information source.”

Inner-city residents and community organizations are working together to grow some pretty positive stories in the Downtown East Side.


Sustainable Competitive Advantage

There is a good post over at Max Gladwell on the importance of ongoing sustainability and CSR dialogue. Shouldn’t sustainability be one of the very few sustainable competitive advantages?

More news on greening the inner-city to come later today, but if you want to help show up at the SOLEfood Urban Farm this Sunday rain or shine.

Climate Smart Workgroup

Dear BC Business,

On behalf of Pacific Carbon Trust, we invite you to join a growing group of companies that are cutting costs by cutting carbon – and marketing their success.

Pacific Carbon Trust, a Crown corporation growing BC’s low-carbon economy, is hosting a special Climate Smart workgroup in Vancouver beginning December 10th, 2009.

Climate Smart is a comprehensive program of training and resources that includes three interactive workshops, access to a web-based greenhouse gas (GHG) management tool, and one-on-one technical assistance.

Businesses leave the program with the following:
– A completed and reviewed GHG inventory, conducted according to internationally recognized standards
– An emissions reduction strategy focused on cost savings
– An understanding of the carbon offset market
– Marketing and communications ideas regarding GHG management successes

Two participants from each business can attend the half-day workshops, and Pacific Carbon Trust is offering you a two-thirds discount. The workshop series is scheduled as follows:
– December 10 – “Measuring GHGs”
– January 14 – “Reducing GHGs”
– January 28 – “Understanding Offsets and Communicating your Commitment”

Pacific Carbon Trust is honoured to invite you to participate in this special series of Climate Smart workshops for B.C.’s most innovative and trusted businesses. Please see the attached flyer for more information on the Climate Smart program and its benefits. You may sign up for the workgroup at <> . We will be in touch soon to follow up with you.

Best regards,
The Climate Smart Team

Climate Smart PCT Invite and Flyer

Green Jobs in the Inner-city Report

Green Jobs Report logoKristina Welch, at the Sauder Centre for Sustainability and Social Innovation, did a great job putting together a report, entitled Green Jobs in the Inner-city, connecting the emerging green economy to the inner-city context and highlighting opportunities for BOB.  Out of this report came the SOLEFood initiative and more.

SOLEfood garden raising a success

Over 50 volunteers and at times nearly as many media people descended on Hastings and Hawks in the DTES for the official garden raising of SOLEfood. We built twenty-four 12ft by 4ft garden boxes and numerous composting containers made of recycled shipping material. Also assembled was a small shed as well as the beginning of the general clean up of the sight which included fridges, wood, slate, metal, and other miscellaneous garbage.

Lots still needs to be done. SOLEfood was always intended to provide training and employment for inner-city residents. However it is a long way from being a functioning farm. We need to:

  • Finish building garden boxes
  • Line all garden boxes
  • Fill boxes with drainage rock and soil
  • Remove urban debris
  • Relocate and secure garden shed
  • General clean up and securing of site

All that work needs to be completed before we can begin planting and growing food on East Hastings. There is lots of good news such as a local chef wanting to buy our vegetables and a farmer in the valley willing to provide us with starter plants.

The garden raising received a lot of media coverage, including two BOB staff members making the front page of the Vancouver Sun. Here is a list of stories I collected:

We took some pictures and put them on Flickr. We might put a few on Facebook too.