Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Community Supported Agriculture: A Win For All

In my community we have strong historical roots to agriculture. Richmond's largest crop is cranberries but blueberries, potatoes, corn, raspberries and many other crops are grown each year in local farms. I grew up in a neighbourhood next to the Bissett family's blueberry farm that is now on Westham Island in Delta, and to make money each summer my friends and I would pick blueberries from the wild bushes in the nearby bog and sell blueberries in ice cream buckets to neighbours. Many of our neighbours' parents worked on the blueberry farms as pickers. One of my favourite childhood memories of growing up in Richmond was doing our weekly produce shopping at the roadside stands of family run farms along Steveston Hwy and No. 5 Road instead of big chain grocery stores. In university I worked for a season as a cashier at Richmond Country Farms, located off Steveston Hwy near the George Massey Tunnel. We continue this tradition with our children visiting many favourite farm stands.
Apples at the Terra Nova Sharing Farm

One of dichotomies of today's society is that we have needy families in a land of plenty. I am a teacher and I see students come to school without breakfast and often without lunches. Children cannot learn, cannot function, without food in their bellies, which is why some schools, like mine, have a breakfast program and also provide lunches to those in need.

The Terra Nova Sharing Farm, close to the middle arm of the Fraser River, near the Vancouver International Airport, grows food for the food bank to provide needy families with fresh, local, in season produce. They also promote sustainability in the community through workshops on organic farming and practices, promote community building with a strong volunteer program as well as food security awareness.

As a family we have always enjoyed going to the festivals and events that the Sharing Farm has held but I became more interested in the Sharing Farm through a high school friend who has been involved with the farm and in the community as food security activist for years. She has recently moved to Vancouver Island to pursue her dreams of an organic farm. It is through her posts on social networking sites that I found out about the Sharing Farm's Community Supported Agriculture. Some spots opened up this year and we jumped at the chance to share in this year's harvest while also supporting the good work that the Sharing Farm does to support those in need.
Three different weeks' CSA veggies

We paid for our portion of the harvest early in the year, then starting the beginning of July we had a weekly share of the harvest that we picked up at the farm each Thursday. This week marks the last CSA pick up for the season. There are weeks where we were in a hurry, but usually my daughters and I enjoyed walking around the farm and community gardens.
Community garden plots at Terra Nova

My daughters' favourite on these weekly visits is a stop at the chicken coop. We dearly wish our city allowed backyard chickens, but alas it is not the case right now.
The chickens out of their coop, getting some fresh air

When we have more time we have walked around the Terra Nova natural area, a former farm that has been fallow for decades.

My favourite thing to do on these visits is to take photos.

The Sharing Farm is a wonderful place to connect with nature and people in the community.
One of the bee hives at the Sharing Farm

 A friend's son participated in a volunteer program at the farm where they partner teenagers with seniors.
The cob oven at the Sharing Farm

My oldest daughter wanted to attend a week long day camp for children eight and up to learn about growing, harvesting and cooking for but we had already booked a family holiday for the same time. She hopes to attend next year. Maybe it will motivate me to walk the walk and volunteer as well.
The CSA pick-up stand on Westminster Hwy 

They also have a market stand on Saturdays for the general public to purchase a portion of the weekly harvest.

I highly encourage others to seek a community shared agriculture program in their area, donate to local sustainability programs, grow on a plot in a community garden or just walk around a local rural area with your family and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells it has to offer.

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