Aiming to grow urban farming as a viable, thriving and vibrant sector in Vancouver and beyond, VUFS is an organization that supports the shared interests of urban farmers. The group strengthens and grows the urban farming sector through education, advocacy, networking and business support.
VUFS began as an informal group of urban farmers, entrepreneurs, urban farming supporters, food security advocates, and consumers dedicated to increasing the sustainability of urban farming in Vancouver and throughout BC.
How it all came together…
On November 22, 2010 urban farmers, urban farming supporters, and food security advocates gathered in East Vancouver to introduce themselves and their projects to each other and to start the discussion on what urban farmers need to be successful. This inaugural meeting was the first time such a group of urban farmers had gathered together in Vancouver – taking this group of urban commercial food producers from operating mostly independently to an increased level of cooperation.
Through group discussion at this meeting, a number of topics important to urban farmers were identified that can be summarized into five categories:
Land Issues such as access, tenure, and quality
Business development and training for urban farmers
Systems and infrastructure for successful growing storage and distribution of produce
Cooperation between urban farmers and complementary organizations
Government support of urban farming through policy and other means
Following this meeting an urban farming listserv was formed which currently has over 180 members.
The November meeting was followed up by a brainstorming meeting in January – following on the heels of an inspiring intimate Q and A session with Will Allen of Growing Power in Milwaukee. The goal of the brainstorming meeting was to bring into focus a shared vision and context for urban farmers with which to move forward and begin to collectively identify our priorities for increasing the sustainability of urban farming in Vancouver. Some of the key themes that arose at this meeting were:
Demonstrating the Ecological and Environmental Value of Urban Farming
Development of an Urban Farming Planning Body
Urban Farming Policy and Advocacy
Urban Farming Research and Education
Internal and External Communications
This meeting was meant to be a jumping off point for the formation of a more formal urban farming network or society. This may have been disrupted by the onset of the 2011 growing season.
With the growing season in full swing, urban farmers’ time comes at a premium. In lieu of steps towards forming a formal urban farming network, urban farmers participated in monthly urban farmer gatherings at urban farms throughout the city. From April through September urban farmers gathered at these various farms to share ideas, food, and beer.
Summer 2011 also saw the announcement of the urban farming forum to take place in November 2011. The Vancouver Urban Farming Forum was an opportunity for urban farmers, policy makers, and food security advocates to gather together to discuss urban farming in the context of land use, municipal policy, and best practices. Drawing on urban farming policy precedents from other West Coast cities such as Victoria, Seattle, and Lantzville – and in an effort to contribute to Vancouver’s goal of being the Greenest City in the World – this forum helped lay the framework for supportive urban farming policies in Vancouver and elsewhere.
Leading up to the forum several urban farmers gathered on several occasions to further identify issues of concern around urban farming. These gatherings were an opportunity to identify topics for discussion at the forum.
These gatherings, along with the forum, acted as the catalyst for the formation of a formal organization of urban farmers in Vancouver — the Vancouver Urban Farming Society. Up to that point, urban farmers continued to communicate through the urban farming listserv, workshops, and food gatherings as they work to develop economically-viable, socially-responsible, and ecologically-sound commercial urban food production models.
Please note that no official membership or representation is meant to be suggested of any urban farm or person appearing on this website.
Currently this site exists to promote urban farming in Vancouver and to provide a hub for information gathering and sharing.