You’ve seen the Solefood’s innovative urban farms on your morning jogs along the seawall, or perhaps after a late night at the Astoria. You’ve probably eaten their fruit and veg in some of the best restaurants around town including Hawksworth, Salt Tasting Room and Fable.
After three years, Michael Ableman and Seann Dory, the guys behind the pioneering social enterprise, are expanding beyond raised garden beds. Solefood is planting an urban orchard on one acre of city-owned land at the busy intersection of Main Street and Terminal Avenue. They also plan to have a produce stand onsite at the new location.
According to this coverage in the Straight, Solefood will plant 1,000 fruit-bearing trees including quince, persimmon, pears, and plums starting this May.
Solefood founders Ableman and Dory are doing more than trying to connect eaters with the source of their nourishment. It goes beyond making Vancouver boulevards verdant. Solefood exists to grow meaningful jobs and provide agricultural training for Vancouver residents who struggle with addiction and mental illness. While their farms have created work for 25 employees, agricultural jobs are, by nature, seasonal. With the new orchard, Solefood hopes to find a way to provide year-round positions.
Solefood’s Main and Terminal location isn’t Vancouver’s first urban orchard. Copley Community Orchard (near Trout Lake and the Nanaimo Skytrain Station) broke ground in 2012. The orchard is a joint effort by the Environmental Youth Alliance, City of Vancouver, and Vancouver Parks; it also happens to be planted on a historic Vancouver orchard site. Produce from Copley’s mix of apple, cherry and pear trees, as well as berry bushes, is available via orchard membership. There’s also a public orchard space for people in the neighbourhood. If you’re interested, you can read more about their cool project here.
But Solefood is the first Vancouver urban orchard in a such a conspicuous urban space. The prime location is close to Pacific Central Station, Science World, and quite possibly the location of New City Market–Vancouver’s future, year-round indoor-outdoor farmers market.
So what if Seattle just announced that they’re getting a 7.5 acre “food forest” in Beacon Hill neighbourhood? I get to walk by this baby every day on my way home. Greenest city by 2020 here we come. Check out Solefood’s website to learn how to sign up for shares of their Community Supported Agriculture program.
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