Will Allen and Urban Farming in Vancouver!

What a brilliant two days for urban farming in Vancouver!

Will Allen has been in town for the past two days and it has been a great time!  Last night we had an intimate Q and A with him and about 30-40 urban farmers at Chapel Arts.  He actually asked all of us to introduce ourselves to him last night so we got a second round of introductions of our urban farmers.   This was great as there were so many new faces in this crowd.  After our introductions we had a chance to ask some questions and have some dialogue.  Not unexpectedly, he talked a lot about the importance of soil. He also talked about the importance of working together – and was quite impressed with the things we have happening in Vancouver.

Today, Will Allen was at City Hall talking to Mayor, many city council members, the food policy council and several other guests.   I was there as a food policy council member and had the privilege of talking about our efforts to form an urban farming network and of opening up the questions to Will Allen.  It was an amazing opportunity to speak to so many policy makers and Will Allen at the same time.  I was nervous as hell, but I think I did the urban farmers justice!

The tonight, Will spoke to a crowd of over 700 people at the Croatian Cultural Centre.  Going through 700 pictures and then answering a few questions.  Some local food folks, Seann Dory from SOLEfood, Jodi Peters from EYA and Backyard Bounty, Sadhu Johnson from the City, and Mary Casetas from Richmond Sharing Farm responded to Will by talking of their own projects and then asking Will some questions.  It was great to see so many familiar face in the crowd as well.  This is a great time for urban farming in Vancouver!

AND! We meet again this Sunday for our next Urban Farmer Meeting.  We will be working with Vince Verlaan, from HB Lanarc, as a facilitator that day and will work – to establish a common vision for moving forward and to start with working groups.  This will be an exciting afternoon!

AND! As if that weren’t enough.  Last night a potential adversary simply dropped off of my radar.  This person is still involved in the project and had previously been causing me some stress.  But someone helped me completely set that stress at ease and I feel uplifted and re-energized.  I shall be eternally grateful.

We finished off a grant application tonight for Vancity for $10,000 and Wes (from BOB) will be finishing off another grant for $20,000 on Monday.  We have a few others in mind also and are now looking at a budget for 2011 of about $52000, which would simply allow us to get a whole lot done and ensure that several people make some income in the process.

We have talked quite a bit about developing a social enterprise aspect to the farmers network so it can generate revenue and not rely on grants to survive.  Grants are good for getting started, but it would be nice to wean from them if we could – to demonstrate the financial viability or possibility of urban farming.

What a great day!




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