The White House organic food garden expanding, Vancouver’s SOLEfood is too!

This Easter holidays Michelle Obama expanded on an already ambitious urban farming initiative in Washington D.C., the one in the White House back yard, as students from Bancroft Elementary and Hollin Meadows Elementary joined the first lady for a day of gardening and planting to start the Easter Weekend last Wednesday. The organic gardening initiative also ties in with a comprehensive health and fitness initiative that the First Lady is championing called Let’s Move, aimed at solving the childhood epidemic of obesity in America within a generation. Renowned urban agriculturalist (and MacArthur Genius Fellow) Will Allen was on hand for the launching of this initiative and spoke, along with the First Lady, on the importance of nutrition, food security and the powerful role that urban farming can play. And with that it give me delight to announce that Will Allen will be  speaking in Vancouver Tuesday July 13 from 7-9pm at the Croatian Cultural Centre, 3250 Commercial Drive (off 14th Ave). Register ASAP as his previous speaking engagement sold out.

As was noted in a previous post, Mr. Allen needed to undergo surgery and was unable to make that previous speaking engagement, part of the SFU Centre for Dialogue’s Growing out of Hunger series, late last month.  We’re excited that he was able to reschedule so quickly. He will be visiting a city where urban farming, along with other green initiatives, definitely enjoys momentum.

In addition to the dozens of community gardens in Vancouver, the SOLEfood inner city farm network will be expanding this spring to incorporate a second site in Chinatown. Further to beautifying and greening urban spaces one of the attributes of the SOLEfood network that makes it unique from many of the other community gardens is its focus on food production, much like the White House garden. The farm on Hawks and Hastings continues to provide training, education and employment opportunities for residents of Vancouver’s inner-city while providing a valuable service to the community. Good, healthy and wholesome food.

More information about the SOLEfood inner-city farm network’s second location will be posted on the Greening the Inner-City Blog soon!

For more information on Michelle Obama’s White House garden check out the White House Blog.  For more information on Will Allen and Growing Power visit Growing Power’s website.

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The future of the greening the inner-city blog

Yesterday the Green Inner-city Cluster met at BOB’s offices.  Many were disappointed that Will Allen’s visit to Vancouver had to be canceled due to a medical issue.  We all wish Will Allen a speedy recovery and hopefully he’ll get up to Vancouver another time, we’d love to show him what we’re doing with urban agriculture here.

At the meeting we went over our current initiatives, the most famous of which is the SOLEfood Urban farm.  The inner-city farmers have completed training with help from such folks as Ward Teulon and Michael Ableman.  Most of the boxes are completely built, not sure about the covers (high tunnels) to lengthen the growing season.  SOLEfood needs equipment and materials still so a public call for them is being echoed on this blog.

The other topic that was heavily discussed is e-waste, which will be dealt with in a future post in more depth.

We also talked about the future of this blog.  It was created almost a year ago, and since then Majora Carter has visited Vancouver twice, we started an urban farm, we trained some inner-city residents in urban agriculture, we even helped promote a few conferences.  So what does the future hold for the Greening the inner-city blog?

That is still being determined, but the team behind the blog was strengthened.  The original group of people who stated an interest in writing about relevant themes and issues here only produced four actual authors of posts.  This was never intended to be the Green BOB Blog or heaven forbid the Green Muskblog.  So we’re going to reach out to find some more guest authors, as finding regular bloggers who will write for free and are knowledgeable and able to post regularly is difficult.  Our two biggest additions to the team are Wes Regan who has blogged for Techvibes among others and Emily Jubenvill of Small Feet.  So expect to see them authoring more posts in the future.

If you’re interested in writing a guest post or have a topic you think would be a good subject for a future post write wes.regan@bobics.org.  We are going to try even harder to stick to our chosen categories:

  • Construction – green buildings, sustainable communities, de-construction
  • Energy – conservation or alternative means to generation
  • Green Businesses – particularly local ones or best practices
  • Green Economy – both locally in Vancouver and over all
  • Green Jobs – locally but with the occasional big picture story or link
  • Green Space – local ones but also interesting urban green spaces worldwide
  • Recycling – which has proven particularly successful in the DTES
  • Waste Reduction – reducing consumption of everything other than energy

This discipline along with the general cleanness of our site and WordPress.com HTML code has apparently lead to our humble blog ranking well in Google for several keywords and phrases.  We will remain on topic as long as I’m still involved.  We also want the blog to be more interactive so expect us to respond to most comments and we’ll continue to cross promote this blog on various other sister sites.

Farming in the DTES

Although we’ve written a number of posts on the SOLEfood urban farm that the authors of this blog helped start and run, it wasn’t the first vacant lot in the inner-city to be planted, nor is it the only one.  Before we were ready to announce our full plans we consulted a number of people and photographed existing gardens and green spaces in the Downtown Eastside.  The Hastings Street Community Garden is probably the most well known, though there are a number of others which I photographed, including one beside the DTES Neighbourhood House.

Today an article about the history and purpose behind another garden appeared on the internet.  David Aupperlee describes himself as a full time urban farmer and works with the organization Jacob’s Well which is right down on Main Street not far from Hastings heading North.  Those of us behind the blog are delighted to read of their successful harvesting or organic vegetables and look forward to discussing techniques and future opportunities to increase the green economy, green jobs, and urban agriculture in the DTES.

Andrea Reimer on Greenest City Goals

Andrea just posted to Twitter and her blog how the city is doing on achieving their Quick Start Recommendations.  BOB, United We Can and many many others helped start an urban farm on Hastings Street which seeks to provide Green Jobs for inner-city residents, but obviously a lot more needs to be done.

Vancouver Community Gardens

Rebecca Bollwitt AKA Miss604 has just written a piece on all the community gardens that have sprouted up in Vancouver. She of course mentions SOLEfood which differentiates itself as being an actual neighbourhood farm, with the intention of selling the produce and paying inner-city residents to work on it.

The farm wouldn’t have been possible without a lot of people donating: time, labour, and in some cases money. SOLEfood has it’s own blog now, where you can hopefully learn more about our future plans.

I also put up a gallery in Flickr of the various community gardens on Hastings Street in the DTES.

DTES Neighbourhood House Garden

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.

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