The Edible Garden Project, an urban farming initiative in North Vancouver, believes in cultivating both crops and community.
Firmly sowing the seeds of an impact-driven existence, as the project flourishes (along with the produce!), we got into the roots of what The Edible Garden Project is all about in an in-depth chat with Becka Nathan, their Program Coordinator.
By Avneet Takhar
If you had to describe what The Edible Garden Project is in 5 words, what would they be?
Community, connection, empowerment, fresh, dynamic.
The EGP is based on urban farming – what’s the difference between urban and traditional farming?
Urban farming uses many similar methods as what we’d think of as traditional farming; however, as it is usually on a much smaller physical scale we are more likely to grow a mixture of crops that complement each other and can change quickly throughout the season as we rotate through our space.
We also think about ourselves as part of the ecosystem of the urban community that we’re in, so we are constantly thinking about how and what we do- and the impacts on the schools, playing fields, and homes very nearby. We hope to always operate in the most beneficial way!
We also like to challenge ideas of traditional farming, especially as settlers on stolen land where traditional farming was introduced via colonization; usually with devastating consequences for the people and the land. So for us, we are thinking about how we can grow food in a way that is ecologically responsible and gives back to the ecosystem, rather than only takes and extracts.
It may come as a surprise to some as North and West Vancouver are considered to have wealthier suburbs, but the EGP is also a produce provider for low income families. Are you able to share how the program works?
So recent stats show that the number of North Shore residents being served by food banks has doubled from the previous year, and with growing numbers due to inflation. Over 6000 lbs of produce annually is grown in our Sharing Gardens, which we give away. This is spread across 6 different locations within North Vancouver which our volunteers help distribute to Harvest Project, Sage Women’s Safe House and Food Bank at North Shore Neighbourhood House, that go to families in need.
On that note, for those interested in learning more about sustainability and autonomy in growing their own food, how can they get started?
A great way is to volunteer with us! People volunteer in all sorts of capacities and there is no requirement to have any gardening experience to do so, there is a huge amount of learning as you go. We also host online classes in the spring and fall with the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre that are free and online so that it is easy for people to attend.
Other ways would be to find a local seed or crop swap in your area, join a community garden if you can, and be nosey! Ask people what they’re growing in their gardens, and try that out on your own.
Can people come in-person to visit, and stock up on veggies?
Yes! We have a market every Wednesday from 2-4pm and Saturday from 10am – 2pm. Wednesday is our farm stand so it is just our produce, Saturday is a full community market!
And lastly, any fun events in the calendar that we should know about?
Our Harvest Fest market is happening on September 16th and our Pumpkin Patch market is on October 14th!
How to Volunteer
Volunteer orientation starts on July 26th and August 30
Visit the Market
Wednesdays and Saturdays at Loutet Farm, 1400 Rufus Avenue, at the corner of Rufus & 14th
There are many ways to get here by transit. Visit TransLink’s Trip Planner to find your way.