Sole Food’s Good Food Revolution | Nature’s Path

Current Size: 100%

Blog

Sole Food’s Good Food Revolution

Posted by Nature's Path on June 6th, 2014 under General, Organic Gardening, Sustainable Living

At Nature’s Path, we think your neighborhood is ripe with possibility. That’s why each year we award three $15,000 Gardens for Good grants to deserving urban agriculture projects that are dedicated to bringing organic food to their communities. We invited our previous winners to share their success stories – we hope you’ll be inspired to start your own community project!

Sole Food Street Farms

When the hands and minds behind Sole Food Street Farms sowed their first seeds in 2009, “no one was jumping out of their seat to give urban agriculture a chance,” remembers cofounder Seann Dory. Fast forward through five years of urban greening, and Sole Food has grown into the face of urban agriculture in Vancouver, BC, and a model for social enterprise across North America.

We can’t help but get excited over Sole Food’s success. They were one of our first Gardens for Good grant recipients, the Canadian winner for our inaugural 2010 year. When we met Seann and his team, Sole Food occupied a third of an acre parking lot and was six employees strong. Raised beds and hard work transformed their patch of cement into 10,000 pounds of artisan quality fruits and vegetables sold at three local restaurants and three farmers markets that first year.

Their Gardens for Good grant became rows of ten foot poles bursting with ripe red strawberries, essentially doubling their growing space. An outpouring of community support fired them into the final round of the 2010 contest, and we were captivated by their mission to empower individuals with limited resources by providing jobs, agricultural training and inclusion in a supportive community of farmers and food lovers.

For Sole Food, the good food revolution didn’t mean launching another social program. Instead, the founders wanted to create job opportunities for downtown eastside residents, many of whom struggle with drug addiction homelessness, and poverty. Sole Food offers a chance to get their hands dirty and grow both greens and a livelihood.

Today, Sole Food employs 20 downtown eastside residents at four different sites, including four of the original hires, and supplies six markets and 37 restaurant clients, as well as a 100 member Community Supported Agriculture program, from their four locations. They’ve got their sights set on new horizons, too – ones beyond the city limits. Next year they’ll work towards a live-work farm outside Vancouver with on-site housing that will both expand their operations and offer more permanent living situations to dedicated employees. Sole Food has always dreamed of a connection between its urban farms and their rural counterpart. Besides, inspired by visits to Foxglove Farm, Sole Food co-founder & director Michael Ableman’s farming paradise on Saltspring Island, some of the people they work with want to experience farming in a more rural environment.

In the spirit of biodiversity, Sole Food has several tricks up their sleeve this year. Veggie enthusiasts will soon be able to shop at a shipping container turned farm stand on site at their urban orchard – another growing initiative that will see Meyer lemons, figs, and persimmons flourish on an urban street corner. They’re planning to open a retail space at Granville Island - their Indiegogo campaign raising the funds to make it happen is in full swing - which will help them expand their operations in return for produce-themed perks.

We’ve been lucky to watch Sole Food grow in our Canadian hometown, and now we’d like to hear your urban farming vision. Share your commitment to organic agriculture, and tell us how you’ll change the world – we’d love to help. We encourage you to put forward your own Gardens for Good organic garden project starting June 9.

Nature's Path