Spreading Seeds

That is the title of a short documentary film made by students at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. It features interviews and footage of local gardeners, politicians, authors, and farmers talking about food security, urban agriculture and the use of public space.

They obviously stopped by SOLEfood on our first major build day. They interviewed Seann Dory and other members of the team as well as some of our volunteers. It is about 14 minutes long so take the time to watch it and send it to a friend or re-post it like we’re doing after it appeared on City Farmer News.


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 projectsinplace@gmail.com. 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.

Pedal Powered Composting Service

Word reached me, through top secret sources (Seann Dory of United We Can), of a business in Victoria started by a homeless activist and a UVIC student to collect compostable material in 5 Kg buckets for the flat rate of $5 dollars per bucket.  The collection is done by bicycle so there is no carbon-based fuels consumed.  The service has proven very popular with over 80 customer in Victoria now.

The composting is done in one of the partner’s backyard, the size of the compost set up requires very little land and water.  The fertilizer is then used by local gardens to grow food.  This model is being setup as a co-op and the founders have no qualms about others setting up a similar system say in Vancouver…

United We Can already has their Urban Binning Unit and as more and more of these become available there is no reason they could not haul compost in addition to other recycleables.  In order to get this project off the ground in the DTES, Seann and the rest of United We Can need a place where they can work the three composting piles necessary.  The composting is done on a small scale so smells and other side effects will be minimal.  If you know of some land where the composting could be done, contact me or Seann.  Once the land is secured this service will then be available to residents and businesses within easy biking distance of United We Can.

Given today is Max Gladwell‘s second big experiment lets see if social media can’t help one of the DTES most famous charities and social enterprises.