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Grow Local Food with Community Gardening

local food community gardens and CSA programsUrban living is fast-paced and low on extra space, but even in the city, it’s possible to grow some of your own vegetables and fruit. Eating local food is an excellent way to make your lifestyle more environmentally-friendly and sustainable. You don’t have to be an expert gardener or have a massive yard to start growing your own food in Vancouver. With community gardens and agriculture popping up in almost every neighbourhood, flexing your green thumb has never been easier.

Getting Started with a Community Garden in Vancouver

Community gardens are vegetable plots available for individuals and families to use, usually located within a public space such as a city park or vacant lot. While some community gardens in high-density neighbourhoods are already at capacity, many gardens still have plots available for this coming growing season. Growing vegetables in a community garden does more than raise local, organic food–working alongside your neighbours strengthens the community as a whole and gives newbie gardeners the opportunity to learn from more seasoned folks.

For more information on applying for a community garden plot, find your local garden’s representative on the City of Vancouver’s community gardening page. Then prepare to grow your own local food.

Community Supported Agriculture in Vancouver

If you want to eat more local food but can’t find the time to work your own plot in a community garden, joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program might be the perfect option. In a CSA, members purchase a share of the farm’s produce at the beginning of the year and then receive the harvest in weekly deliveries throughout the growing season. CSA members share in the bounty of the farm according to the season, so if it’s a bumper year for cucumbers you might find yourself with a surplus, or if a particular crop doesn’t produce well, you may find you don’t receive much of it.

CSAs are a socially and environmentally-responsible and cost-effective way to purchase organic fruit and vegetables direct from the farmers, instead of paying for the wholesalers, transportation and retail costs that are added into the price at the supermarket.

Local Food from Fresh Roots Urban CSA

The Fresh Roots Urban CSA is an organic farm that operates on a unique model. It’s sort of a hybrid of the community garden and CSA concepts. Fresh Roots grows food in garden plots scattered through backyards and urban gardens throughout East Vancouver, and the harvest is shared among the members. Supplies and produce deliveries are transported by bicycle trailer instead of trucks, and it’s as green and local as you can possibly get.

Whether you get involved by volunteering, doing an urban farming internship or buying a farm share, Fresh Roots is a fertile new way to think about urban food production.

Growing your own local food is a great way for kids and adults to get in touch with nature, have an opportunity to get their hands dirty and learn where their food comes from. You don’t have to have acres of land to grow vegetables, and you can absolutely learn as you go. Whether you turn a plot in your backyard, join a community garden in your local park or become a member of a CSA farm, nothing beats the satisfaction of eating fresh, local, organic food.

Michelle Carchrae is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom to two girls. With a serious love for Vancouver and an equally serious need to get out of the house with two young kids, Michelle searches out the best kid and parent friendly places to go. Michelle also writes about parenting at her blog, The Parent Vortex.

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