Today's farms intersect across the entire planet: American wheat travels to Africa, Mexican varieties of tomatoes are on plates throughout the world, and our sweet banana bread would be impossible without importing the fruit from all over South America. Our lives revolve around farms all over the globe, so why not stop in and see some local farms?
Southlands Heritage Farm
Address: 767 Balaclava Street (at W 51st Ave), Vancouver
The Southlands Heritage Farm is owned by a family of five: two parents and their three children. Rick, Jennifer and their sons (Tik, Telf, and Jordan) are the latest installment of a family that has lived in the Southlands for generations. Originally conceptualized as a sustainable backyard farm, the Southlands Farm has moved and grown from a roadside market to a new property and a new name, as the farm's current home was once a daffodil market garden and an orchard.
Today, the farm offers horse riding lessons, farming workshops, field trips, camps for children, pumpkin patches, riding programs, and, of course, a spread of farmers' markets. There are half-day and full-day camps where visitors can learn about the community's rich farming history and learn basic farming skills, such as caring for the animals and growing, harvesting, and preparing seasonal crops. Visitors may also wish to check out the farm's horse riding camps, farm tours, or they may wish to have a memorable time with a farm birthday party.
[I am passionate about] farming education, mostly, and growing a lot of food locally... [and] getting kids involved with farming. When kids first come to the camp and are at first afraid to try things, they don't want to go into the garden and taste some lettuce or pick a flower, you know, and then they taste [the lettuce] and get really excited, and then go home. And the next day I'll hear back from the parents, 'Oh, my kid made dinner yesterday, she made a salad, she has never eaten salad before,' and that is just really cool,
said Jordan, when asked about his passion for farming.
Southlands Heritage Farm has a lot of educators who, like Jordan, are heartfelt and impassioned about engaging the curiously of both children and adults about a wide selection of topics, from cooking to animal husbandry. The farm is always hosting events and special happenings, so be sure to call and check what is coming up in the next few weeks; you won't be disappointed.
Address: 405 Seymour River Place, North Vancouver
Maplewood Farm is operated by the municipal District of North Vancouver, and is a popular destination on Vancouver's North Shore. Since opening to the public in 1975, Maplewood Farm has become home to over 200 animals and birds, and is protected by the District Parks Department to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy a truly rural experience in an ever-expanding urban area. Maplewood Farm has a pastoral five-acre swath of land in which to preserve a rural heritage, and the staff want you to enjoy yourself as you experience a little bit of life on the farm.
Visitors will have a chance to meet a few new friends, such as horses, goats, sheep, pigs, donkeys, cows, hens, geese, and rabbits; some of the staff refer to this diverse line-up as their group of "farm friends." Maplewood Farm offers the run of the farm for birthday parties, and from April through October offers pony rides for children on the weekends.
I love being outside, being with people, being with animals.. working outside. And we have so many people here all the time, people come here for parties, come for tours, even just come out of boredom or some vague interest but end up coming back again and again... we [the volunteers] show up just because we love to be here and help out. We actually have more people wanting to help out than we can accept, which is just crazy to think that there is such a positive response amongst the community here. It really makes you love the work even more, being surrounded by people like that,
said a volunteer, Chris, when asked why he spent time helping out on the farm.
One of Maplewood Farm's most popular draws is a "Behind the Scenes" event, where children get to look into the day-to-day running of the farm: collecting and washing eggs, grooming the animals, and all the other activities that make up life on a farm. Make sure to call ahead and register for any event that catches your eye.
Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm (FarmWonders)
Originally cleared for agricultural purposes as far back as 1915, some kind of farm has been on the Vancouver campus for the University of British Columbia since the establishment of the university site on Point Grey. In 2010, the university committed to integrating the on-site farm system as an academic facility; by 2011, the farm had over 150 projects and continues to grow today. While the 24-hectare area on the campus is being used to develop an "academically rigorous and globally significant" plan to address issues of sustainability, the Centre is also home to multiple workshops, educational courses, children's programs, private events, site rentals, and community tours.
Interested parties can opt to register for upcoming workshops during the growing season, including learning how to identify wild, edible and medicinal plants, incorporate wild foods into your lifestyle, or even how to harvest, craft, and use natural dyes from local plants. UBC students (with a valid UBC student card) get a discount, so if you are attending the university you have no excuse to not check them out.
The most popular program at UBC Farm is FarmWonders, an educational and fun-filled initiative that seeks to promote awareness of the environment through science-based farming learning. FarmWonders embodies UBC's aspiration to be a "living laboratory," allowing children to discover the secrets and facts behind the foods they eat. FarmWonders offers one-week camps where children will get to visit beehives, chickens, and other farm animals; they will get to explore the forest, and learn how to plant and care for a garden; and finally, they will have the opportunity to cook and eat locally farmed foods.
FarmWonder also offers school tours and field trip programming for groups of all ages.
My favourite part of giving the tours is definitely the educational aspect; it is so rewarding to see all these kids here learning, and see how their interest develops during the tour. A lot of them start out not interested. During the spring and fall tours it is pretty clear some of [the students] are just happy to be out of a classroom, but I think more often than not they start to get really into it. Part of that is the subject matter, and part of it is the enthusiasm of us who giving the tour. But nothing is more rewarding than seeing a kid who went on one of these tours in the spring sign up—or I guess have their parents sign them up—for one of our camps later that year [in the summer],
said one of the FarmWonder tour providers, who wished to remain nameless.
FarmWonders is seasonal, like most farm programs, so be sure to check them out before it is too late.
Meet The Photographer: Kevin Eng
Kevin's passion for photography has encouraged others to see the splendor and beauty of nature right at their doorstep, as he captures the sights of the day, and colors and mystery of world while it sleeps. Many of the subjects of his work are based locally in his hometown in Vancouver, B.C., where he first discovered his fascination with night photography. Kevin is currently working as a music teacher, music director for his church, and landscape photographer.