From gas to grass

Photo: ToadLickr

Urban agriculture means more than planting a few fruits and vegetables – at least for Sole Food Street Farms. The organization produces 60 tons of food per year, and recently transformed an old gas station into what locals call “the largest urban orchard in North America.” Better still, Sole Foods employs recovering addicts and individuals suffering from mental illness in this area of Vancouver, Canada, providing them with meaningful work.

Co-founders Michael Ableman and Seann Dory started Sole Food primarily to provide work opportunities to a group who need it the most. The Downtown Eastside of Vancouver is considered one of the poorest areas in Canada, and reports the highest recorded drug use. Filling the gas station with 500 fruit trees provides apples, persimmons, quinces, Meyer lemons, cherries and rare plums to local restaurants and grocery stores. But it also provides hope for the 25 employees trying to turn their lives around.

The location is almost ideal, close to local businesses and visible to anyone who passes by. However, faced with high decontamination fees, many companies decided against renting the space. Sole Foods has implemented a growing system that ensures the safety of the food grown on the 1-acre lot: The trees are grown in tubs and the orchard is entirely moveable. This keeps it safe from contamination, and also creates a mobile farm, if Sole Foods should ever need to relocate.

The farm’s objective is to “marry innovative farming with concrete social goals,” Ableman says on the Sole Food Website. They prioritize hiring as many people from the Downtown Eastside neighborhood as possible, he told Huffington Post B.C.. From growing and selling the food locally to employing people in the neighborhood, Sole Foods aims to keep every part of their urban farming process personal and local.

Sole Food now runs four farms in downtown Vancouver and a fifth location will soon be added. An initiative that puts its employees first and produces organic food on a massive scale, Sole Food is transforming the Vancouver urban agriculture scene.

Solution News Source

From gas to grass

Photo: ToadLickr

Urban agriculture means more than planting a few fruits and vegetables – at least for Sole Food Street Farms. The organization produces 60 tons of food per year, and recently transformed an old gas station into what locals call “the largest urban orchard in North America.” Better still, Sole Foods employs recovering addicts and individuals suffering from mental illness in this area of Vancouver, Canada, providing them with meaningful work.

Co-founders Michael Ableman and Seann Dory started Sole Food primarily to provide work opportunities to a group who need it the most. The Downtown Eastside of Vancouver is considered one of the poorest areas in Canada, and reports the highest recorded drug use. Filling the gas station with 500 fruit trees provides apples, persimmons, quinces, Meyer lemons, cherries and rare plums to local restaurants and grocery stores. But it also provides hope for the 25 employees trying to turn their lives around.

The location is almost ideal, close to local businesses and visible to anyone who passes by. However, faced with high decontamination fees, many companies decided against renting the space. Sole Foods has implemented a growing system that ensures the safety of the food grown on the 1-acre lot: The trees are grown in tubs and the orchard is entirely moveable. This keeps it safe from contamination, and also creates a mobile farm, if Sole Foods should ever need to relocate.

The farm’s objective is to “marry innovative farming with concrete social goals,” Ableman says on the Sole Food Website. They prioritize hiring as many people from the Downtown Eastside neighborhood as possible, he told Huffington Post B.C.. From growing and selling the food locally to employing people in the neighborhood, Sole Foods aims to keep every part of their urban farming process personal and local.

Sole Food now runs four farms in downtown Vancouver and a fifth location will soon be added. An initiative that puts its employees first and produces organic food on a massive scale, Sole Food is transforming the Vancouver urban agriculture scene.

Solution News Source

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