Montecristo Magazine: A Growing Reality – Vancouver’s Urban Farms
Film:Director Of Photography And Editor: Liam Mitchell.
Autumn issue of Montecristo featuring Vancouver’s urban farmers: Solefood Farms, Inner City Farms, Victory Gardens
By Joie Alvaro Kent; Photography by Alana Paterson
Solefood Farms: Sean Dory, Michael Ableman.
Inner City Farms: Andrew Fleming, Camil Dumont.
Victory Gardens: Lisa Giroday, Samantha Philips, Sandra Lopuch.
All in all, it’s the largest working farm within Vancouver’s city limits, possibly even in North America, and Ableman acknowledges the unprecedented scope of SOLEfood’s social initiative. “It’s stupidly, unbelievably ambitious,” he remarks with a smile. “There’s nothing easy about this, not at this scale. It’s a huge grand experiment, and I often tell people that I’ve staked my reputation on it.” Quite a declaration as Ableman is an internationally renowned expert on organic farming, sustainable agriculture, and urban farming. A farmer for 40 years, author, photographer, and lecturer, he started the Center for Urban Agriculture in 1987 at Fairview Gardens in Southern California. He now makes his home on Salt Spring Island and alternates farming duties between SOLEfood and Foxglove Farm.
Ableman draws upon his monumental wealth of urban agricultural expertise to maximize SOLEfood’s growing efficiency within a limited amount of lateral space. Innovative techniques such as high-density seeding and vertical planting maximize space, and ensure that production levels can, to some degree, compensate for the lack of acreage. Soil biology and fertility are consistently monitored to optimize productivity of the raised planting beds. And niche varietals selected for prime flavour and beauty are displayed in a glorious riot of colour, never failing to catch the eye of potential customers. “Each of our crops is definitely worth more than its more conventionally grown counterpart. But it’s not the big ideas here that are going to matter. It’s the little stuff done well that determines consistently high quality at every stage of the growing and harvest process. This the part I’m good at and it’s where SOLEfood will either succeed or fail.”