New Organic Farm Sprouts Next to BC Place

British Columbia is famous as the birthplace of the 100-mile diet.  But residents of downtown Vancouver might be enjoying a one-mile diet later this summer thanks to an urban farm sprouting up right next to BC Place.

Earlier this month, I started noticing empty wooden boxes – first hundreds, then thousands of them – neatly spread out on the parking lot next to the stadium.  Then one day a mountain of top soil appeared at the site.

It turns out that the dusty old lot – which has been sitting empty since Expo 86 – is about to become Vancouver’s largest urban farm.

Forty varieties of organic fruits and vegetables are currently being planted on the two-acre site, everything from strawberries and melons to salad greens and daikon radishes, according to a recent Vancouver Sun article.  The farm is is completely portable – with everything grown in above-ground containers – since the land is on a three-year lease from its owner.

Interested in sampling some of that tasty, hyper-local produce come harvest time?

The entire project is the brainchild of a group called Solefood, which provides employment and agricultural training to inner-city residents.  In turn, Solefood sells the produce it grows to restaurants, farmers markets and directly to the consumer through pre-paid shares entitling shareholders to a certain amount of fresh fruits and veggies throughout the season.

Photo credit: Christopher M. | Flickr

The farm next to BC Place will be tended by 25 people, mainly residents of the Downtown Eastside.  It consists of some 2,800 separate wooden containers currently filled with mushroom compost and organic matter trucked into the site.

Funding was provided by a $475,000 donation from the Radcliffe Foundation, plus a grant from Vancity.  The land was leased free of charge by Concord Developments for a period of three years.

You may already be familiar with some of Solefood’s other urban farms around town.  They have sites on East Hastings Street, at Terminal and Main, at Olympic Village and at First and Clark.

So how do beets, bok choy and beans raised inches above the asphalt and with the SkyTrain thundering overhead actually taste?  I guess we’ll have to wait for summer to find out.

Check out Solefood’s website to learn where you can find their organic urban produce and how to sign up for shares of their Community Supported Agriculture program.   Consistent with Solefood’s vision, a percentage of their harvest is donated to community groups and their own employees.

Any urban farmers out there?  What do you think of Solefood’s new farm at BC Place? 

Want more updates on Vancouver and beyond?  Follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza

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