The Food Garden at UBC Botanical Garden is thought to be one of Vancouver’s oldest food demonstration gardens. Its design and development in the 1970’s at a central location in the Garden showed foresight into the local food movement and now has the potential to serve as a focus for urban agriculture. Today, Vancouver supports a vibrant food culture that is quickly becoming a global food and sustainability tourism destination. As the Garden moves towards its 100th year, we are developing programs and infrastructure to engage the public in food systems thinking.
Nearly every Wednesday morning in the growing season for the past 15 years, Blanche Olejnik has been leading 8-10 FOG volunteers in harvesting fresh fruit and vegetables. Full bunches of crunchy kale, cherry tomatoes, foot-long cucumbers and string beans along with a diversity of other vegetables are harvested and packed for donation to hungry and homeless people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Vancouver is currently experiencing its driest summer on record. In late August, the Food Garden served as an outdoor classroom where UBC Botanical Garden and community partners (Vancouver Urban Farming Society, SPEC Urban Farmer Field School and Kitsilano Neighbourhood House) co-hosted Growing Food in a Changing Climate: Planning for Drought and Heat Tolerance. This timely workshop hosted urban farmers and small-scale growers to learn about water conservation tips and innovative irrigation techniques for designing drought-tolerant gardens.
The future of food is changing as the landscape of our planet and the biodiversity it holds is undergoing significant losses. In North America, botanical gardens are exploring how their collective expertise and unique collections can be used to engage the public in deeper discussions around food systems, cultural diversity and climate change. As the UBC Botanical Garden prepares to enter its Centennial year, staff are examining how the Food Garden can connect classes and communities to conservation. Join staff on September 24 to tour the Food Garden, learn ideas for how to feed the future and enjoy an outdoor screening of a soil film.
Submitted by Dr. Tara Moreau, Associate Director, Sustainability and Community Programs, February 29, 2016