Local eating for all

Farm share programs in BC bring local organic produce to a wider range of consumers.

Credit: Flickr | krossbow

Community Supported Agriculture is ‘growing’ on average Vancouver consumers

Eating local and organic isn’t just for hippies and elitists. It’s for everyone, even those who shop at Costco


Something happened recently that made me realize local eating is going main stream: I was having dinner at my sister’s place and my brother-in-law explained that dinner tasted so good because everything was local and organic. For most of my friends this wouldn’t be a revelation, but for my sister’s family (and bless their hearts, I love them dearly…) who normally shop at Costco, the fact that fresh local food is not only delicious but also better for them was, well, news…


My brother-in-law said his conundrum (he does the cooking and shopping) was that it’s not always easy to find local or organic food at the places he shops. When I suggested he try a different type of grocery store, say a natural one, I realized by the way he cringed (not sure if he was worried about inflated prices, being in a checkout line with unwashed hippies, or both) that organic has an image problem.


Christina, who blogs at Spoonfed, wrote a post about how in many people’s minds Organic = Elite. When I first read her post I wasn’t sure if I agreed. But as I thought about all my well-read friends—who don’t mind spending extra for everything from organic chocolate to natural hair dye—I realized they might be a bit different from people like my brother-in-law, people who are looking for a way to buy food for their families that doesn’t require embracing a movement that might lead to going deodorant-free or doing cleanses.


When my brother-in-law cringed, he made it clear that if local eating is going to keep making inroads into the mainstream, it needs to be accessible. We need to drop the buzzwords and call all that natural, organic, local, pesticide-free, biodynamic food, food. We need to call it regular food, for regular people.


Spread the word about CSAs in BC

My solution for my brother-in-law was to introduce him to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). The CSA, or farm share, is a purchasing model that lets customers subscribe to a share of the farm harvest. The farmer is ensured income from their crop, and local people get good wholesome food. Far from being an elite model of shopping for snobby eco-moms or smelly hippy types, this is as basic as it gets. We just need to get the word out.


There is a fantastic list of local CSAs (many of them are full for this year, but plan now for next year), including these:


Farmers on 57th


A new agricultural project in central Vancouver at George Pearson Centre. Pearson is home to 120 residents living with physical disabilities. In 2009, the Farmers on 57th transformed about one acre of Pearson’s 45 acres into community integrated gardens


Kitsilano Farms


A collection of backyard gardens around the Kitsilano neighbourhood. The people who own these gardens have provided us with the space to grow produce that we can take to market or share with the community through our CSA program.


Urban Grains


Provides Vancouver residents with access to organic grain grown locally in Agassiz, BC. A FarmFolk/CityFolk Project!


Weekly Harvest Box

A family farm on Sumas Prairie in East Abbotsford that’s growing a wide array of vegetables and offering a weekly box. Email Andrew Arkesteyn-Vogler.