Celebrating the year

What a year!

Yesterday marked the last day of the fall/winter program at the farm, and boy was it a big day!

The day started with a farm scavenger hunt, then the students competed in farm Olympics where they had to fill two buckets with weeds, plant corn, pick peas, water the orchard, and fill two wheelbarrows with wood-chips.

Students and staff prepared a barbeque lunch before unveiling the new sign at the entrance of the farm paying homage to Mr. Graham Harkley, and Mrs. Tammy Veltkamp – the amazing teachers who started this program and who will not be returning next year. Their legacy will live on through our students and the farm.

We finished the celebratory day by watching the grade 12 environmental studies students’ film then indulged in some tasty treats and the students presented their teachers with gifts.

P.S a note from the gr. 12 enviro class – SAVE THE BEES!!!

Have a great summer and be sure to visit the farm stand for fresh produce 🙂 Look at all those garlic sapes we just pulled, come before we are all out!



Delt Farm Update

June is here and we are already full throttle into our growing season thanks to the hard work of the Delta Farm Roots students and staff. With nearly all our beds planted, we are expecting lots of food and we are excited to announce we will be selling at the Ladner and Tsawwassen farmers markets: July 22nd (Ladner) , July 28th (Tsawwassen) , Aug 11th (Tsawwassen). We may change one of our Tsawwassen markets to the North Delta market, so please stay tuned!


Farmer Jasmine is back with Fresh Roots for a second growing season, and we are very excited to have Farmer Shamus join us with his excellent building skills and eye for infrastructure improvements. Please join us at the Delta site – 6570 1A ave – to buy our fresh produce on our honour stand and don’t forget to say hi to us on the field.


Happy Growing!



All Our Father’s Relations

The Vancouver Food Policy Council is pleased to invite you to join us for a special documentary film screening of All Our Father’s Relations, followed by a panel discussion.

When: Thursday, May 31st – 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Doors open at 6:30pm. Film starts at 7pm. Panel starts at 8pm.

Where: Science World at TELUS World of Science, 1455 Quebec St, Vancouver, BC. View Map.

The venue and washrooms are wheelchair accessible. Gender neutral washrooms are available on-site.

Tickets are $15 – available through Eventbrite. Share the event with friends and family on Facebook.

We acknowledge that we are on the unceded, occupied, ancestral and traditional lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.

As we strive to understand our own relationships to each other and the land through food, it is important for us to also recognize the historical and ongoing colonization and settlement of Indigenous peoples and lands that make it possible for us to be here as settlers.

About the Film

All Our Father’s Relations (祖根父脈) is a documentary film telling the story of the Grant siblings’ journey to rediscover their father’s roots and to better understand his fractured relationship with their xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) mother. Raised primarily in the traditions of the Musqueam people, the Grant family and their story reveals the shared struggles of migrants and Aboriginal peoples today and in the past.

Panel Discussion + Special Guests

Join us afterwards for a panel discussion with Alexandra Henao-Castrillon, Hayne Wai and Howard E. Grant to explore how the erasure of Indigenous and minority communities’ food contributions impacts current society and actions.

Alexandra Henao-Castrillon is originally from Colombia. She has worked supporting and advocating for migrant farm workers in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley for the last 6 years. She is a founding member of the Migrant Workers’ Dignity Association

Hayne Wai is a longtime advocate, researcher, and author on Vancouver’s Chinatown and Strathcona. He is a founding member and past president of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC and a former board trustee of the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden and continues his involvement with both organizations. Hayne worked for the federal and provincial governments and was more recently a sessional instructor at UBC’s Faculty of Education. He has served on government, post-secondary and community committees on anti-racism, diversity, human rights and multiculturalism including the recent city advisory committee on Historical Discrimination Against Chinese in Vancouver. Panelists and participants will explore topics ranging from Reconciliation efforts, migrant farm labour organizing, and other challenges we are facing in just and sustainable food systems.

Howard E. Grant was born and raised in the Musqueam community. He was one of the fortunate children who did not attend residential school, giving him the benefit of learning his culture, values and teachings from his elders in his every day life. Mr. Grant is his family’s cultural speaker and is a historian and cultural leader of his extended family. As a result of this, Howard was given the honour by the elders of his extended family to carry the name qiyəplenəxʷ, a name known and respected throughout Coast Salish territories. Mr. Grant is currently the Executive Director of the First Nations Summit. The First Nations Summit is comprised of a majority of First Nations and Tribal Councils in British Columbia, providing a forum to address issues related to Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty negotiations as well as other issues of common concern. He is also a long serving member of Council from his home community of Musqueam.

Sarah Ling was born and raised as a 4th generation Chinese Canadian in Prince Rupert, B.C. on Tsimshian territory. She is a Project Manager with an Indigenous focus at the University of British Columbia at St. John’s College as well as Student Housing and Hospitality Services, where she produces and manages both Indigenous and Chinese Canadian storytelling initiatives. She is the lead Producer of All Our Father’s Relations, and was recently elected President of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C


These Vancouver millennials are getting their hands dirty and growing local food, one veggie at a time

by: Melanie Green

First, he had to find the space to grow his veggies. But with land in Vancouver “far too expensive,” Dumont and friends decided to bike around the city going door-to-door asking who would be willing to grow food instead of grass in their gardens.

Before long, there was a wait list.

Eight years later, Dumont is the executive director of Inner City Farms, a non-profit sprouted from the desire to grow food locally.

“New farmers tend to be chomping at the bit to get in the sustainable food game,” Dumont said. “But that mountain of enthusiasm is not always a mountain of realism.”

Dumont is part of the rising urban agricultural movement, where there’s been a spike of millennials and first-generation farmers getting their hands dirty. Unlike other Canadian cities, Vancouver is the one urban centre with a younger farming age, according to the 2016 Statistics Canada census.

What Dumont described as a labour of love started on 400 square feet and jumped to almost an acre sprawled across 11 yards in the city. The veggies are traded for leased land in addition to being sold to local restaurants.

The upsurge in interest comes from social and environmental concerns, a desire to understand where food comes from and find better ways to manage our agricultural systems, he added.

“We grow right in the city in spaces where people constantly see,” he said. “We are all complicit in a destructive global system…. It would be nice to reduce that impact somehow and do something more direct.”

Vancouver’s population is ready for this movement, Dumont continued, calling the city “Canada’s California.” Small-scale resilient models are a good start, he added.

Much like Dumont, Marc Schutzbank hungered to better understand food production.

For his master’s thesis, he conducted the first census for urban farmers in 2010 with the Vancouver Urban Farming Society and funded by the city of Vancouver. The second census, from 2014 to 2016, surveyed 13 self-identified urban farms who described themselves as operations with positive ecological and social contributions as their core.

The census found seven acres of land producing food representing $750,000 in sales (more than five times than three years earlier) and $1.9 million in economic benefits.

Schutzbank sits on the Vancouver Food Policy Council and is director of Fresh Roots, an educational urban farm. He was also instrumental in a two-year project to review Vancouver’s urban agriculture guidelines.

Prior to the guidelines, there wasn’t clarity over the legality of selling food and cost of permitting or building codes. Schutzbank heard farmers confused over how to sell their produce. Some were not incorporated and some were charities, which he noted is different than sole-proprietorship.

“The city thought having business licenses would make it easier,” Schutzbank said. “The reality is urban farmers are making so little money that any additional expense made it difficult.”

There’s a tangle of bylaws when it comes to growing in the city, he acknowledged, and many farmers are moving to other municipalities to find land. He expects the amount of land farmed to reduce significantly for the next census.

“The regulations are older than what’s happening on the ground,” he explained. For example, shipping containers or greenhouses require development or irrigation permits. “We need to figure out what specific changes we want and advocate for them this election year.

“We’ve done a good job of articulating goals but what we’re learning is that we have to put more resources into them.”

But Michael Ableman, author and co-founder of Sole Food Street Farms — where they turn parking lots into farms— said the city policy review is “simply window dressing.” According to Ableman, his farm, which is the largest in the city, had zero benefit from the current policy.

Meetings during the two-year review process were in the middle of the growing season, he added, making it nearly impossible to hear from “actual farmers.”

So few have been asked to grow for so many. And that is at the root of challenges, Ableman said. “When 2 per cent of the population is growing for the rest, it creates numerous problems,” he explained. “We really don’t have a food crisis as much as we have a crisis of participation.”

For the 63-year-old farmer, the romance is gone. “We’re not gonna feed our cities from growing in them and we need to get over that idea,” he said. “(Urban agriculture) may not be a major production role but it has huge social and educational potential.”

Getting experience running a farm also needs to be addressed to set budding young farmers up for success: It takes complex training, time and dedication, Ableman added.

Dalia Levy, a first-generation millennial urban farmer, knows all about the back-breaking skills necessary to grow food. The Vancouver resident has been trying to secure a lease on Agricultural Reserve Land (mostly in Richmond because of its nutrient-rich soil) to have heritage sheep and build a permaculture system.

But urban farming remains a hobby, she said, since it’s almost impossible to find plots that are “farm ready.” The librarian has been looking for over two years and said the barriers are many.

“It’s speculative investors that won’t lease because they flip property, or ones that want all kinds of conditions, or land without water and road access, or land that would take years to repair the soil,” she explained. “At the end of the day, there is nobody training young farmers about lease agreements, or how to find landowners and lawyers.”

Month-to-month leases are tough for farmers who are on a seasonal timeline. “You can’t just up and move out in August if your crops aren’t ready till fall,” Levy said.

Vancouver needs to “walk the walk” if it wants to claim being the “greenest city,” she added.

“Young farmers need clear action that encourages small-scale regenerative farming through land trusts, start-up grants, caps on home size, and changes to the ALR,” Levy said. “The reality is this ALR land was set aside for us to sow our future food security and instead it is being used as a speculative staging ground for the planet.”

“It does not feel nice to constantly have the door shut,” she said.

This story is the first instalment in a three-part series looking at small-scale farming in British Columbia.

Melanie Green is a Vancouver-based reporter covering food culture and policy. Follow her on Twitter: @mdgmedia

Correction, May 26, 2018 – This story has been changed from a previous version which misstated Michael Ableman’s role at Sole Food Street Farms. He is a co-founder, not the owner. A quote from Mr. Ableman has also been clarified explaining his position on the need for more experience for young farmers.

Read more: https://www.thestar.com/vancouver/2018/05/24/these-vancouver-millennials-are-getting-their-hands-dirty-and-growing-local-food-one-veggie-at-a-time.html

Filling Garden Beds

Good news: we received a soil donation from the City of Vancouver’s Social Policy Department.
Bad news: it was delivered far from our site!

With shovels, wheel barrows and muscle, we managed to fill a few over the course of Sunday morning. – Sophie Noel

Pre-Schoolers Explore

The preschoolers learned about bugs and creatures that might live in gardens. Together, we made salt-dough critters, placed them on the wood,  toasted the wood with a blow-torch, then lifted  them to reveal their shadows. The results were beautiful shadows of creatures and river rocks. – Sophie Noel


Strawberries – That’s what we are all really after…

Strawberry – Everbearing

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. In the future we will have native varieties of this delicious berry, but for now we have loads of these everbearing cultivated plants!

Physical properties: Perrenial small bush (20cm diameter) with large, juicy, red strawberries. Will send runners and establish a patch if left alone.

Preferred conditions: Dry heads, wet feet. Prefferably no more than one plant per sq. foot. Mulch will prevent fruit rot. Sunny loaction is best. Will die back in winter, but come up again in spring.

Edibility: YEAH! (but don’t tell the kids…)

For best results, replace every 4th year with new runners as old plants are less productive.


Large Leaf Lupine – Native Wildeflower of beauty and fame!

Large Leaf Lupine – Lupinus Poliphyllus

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. This one is just too beautiful not to spread around!

Physical properties: Perennial, upright, up to 1.5m high

Preferred conditions: Moist to wet open habitats (sea shores, streamside, meadows, disturbed sites). Low elevations. Likes sun, will die back in fall and come right back in spring!

Edibility: Wild lupin contain toxins – Not edible

First Nation Uses: Unknown

Beautiful purple flower heads, fixes nitrogen, self seeding.


Kinnikinnick – Native ground cover to outlast them all!

Kinnikinnick; Bearberry, Coastal; Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. This amazing ground cover is not just beautiful, but has been used in many ways by First Nations all throughout the area.

Physical properties: Perennial, trailing groundcover, evergreen, 20cm tall, bright red fruit

Preferred conditions: Sandy and well drained exposed sites, dry rocky slopes, dry forest and clearings, from low elevation to alpine tundra. Does not need much of anythig but sun and space, will tolerate our winters no problem!

Edibility: Edible but mealy and rather flavourless, leaves were used for medicine (see below)

First Nation Uses: Dried leaves smoked as a part of a smoking mix. The leaves were  chewed on to suppress thirst. Kinnikinnick fruit berries were also mashed to create a sealant on baskets.

In terms of medicinal use, the leaves were infused (by steeping them in water just above the boiling point to make tea) and drink it as tonic. This infusion could also be used as mouthwash for canker sores or weak gums. It was also made into a decoction (made by boiling the plant material in water) and drunk for colds and Tuberculosis. This decoction could also be used as wash for broken bones. Moreover, decoction of Kinnikinnick was used as eye medicine for sore eyes. Amongst the Haida, the leaves were used as a diuretic in kidney diseases and infections of the urinary passages.