Friday, May 01, 2009

Two exciting steps closer to eating local

I've spent most of this week in bed and on the couch dealing with a really bad cold and thinking about how to keep myself healthier. Eat more fruits and veggies! More vitamin-rich foods! Get more sleep and exercise! While I was creating this list in my head, two messages arrived in my inbox presenting exciting opportunities towards these ends.

The first was something I had been waiting for hopefully, but not sure if I'd be so lucky – an offer to purchase a share in the Urban Grains CSA. Urban Grains is a community-supported agriculture program. This is their first year of operation and their aim is to demonstrate new possibilities for local eating by providing Vancouver residents with access to grain grown locally in Agassiz.

I had signed up for their email updates many months ago and had been eagerly following their progress as they searched for a farmer to partner with and made decisions about how the CSA would work. I wasn't sure if I had joined early enough to be a part of it this year, so was so excited to be offered a share. At the end of the summer, I'll have in my hands a 20 kg bag of locally grown and milled whole-wheat flour!

I can't even visualize how much flour that is, but I'm sure I'll be packing up some smaller bags to pass on to my local-flour-loving friends and family. In exchange for recipes maybe? I'm going to need to amass a serious collection of whole-wheat bread recipes over the next few months in order to properly put all of that flour to use throughout the year. It's so great the way things come together – just as I've been learning to bake bread and really enjoy it as one of those good-in-every-way things, Urban Grains has success with their initiative and I get to be a part of something really awesome in the community. But so far a lot of the bread recipes I've been lovin' are white flour breads, so please share your favourite whole-wheat recipes with me! And, check out the Urban Grains blog to learn more about the CSA or get your name on a waiting list.

The second exciting email came a few days later – news that I've got a spot in the Davie Village Community Garden! I had previously been told I was on the waiting list, so had given up hope for this year. But management of the garden has changed and I guess they must have increased the number of plots or something because now I'm on the list. Number 94 to be precise, but out of 130, that's no so bad. I'll be going there on Saturday to register and be assigned a plot – so exciting.

And, also a bit scary. I have next-to-no gardening experience. But enthusiasm, passion, and a huge love for fresh local veggies – I've got all that. And a sister and mother who are gardeners-extraordinaire and always willing to answer my pleas for advice via phone. And... a bunch of friends who I think will be happy to get their hands dirty and put their minds together with mine to figure out how to do this, in exchange for a share in my small plot. That's how I'm hoping to do this – make my plot a mini community within the community garden, and see what we can do. I think together we'll be able to have at least some degree of success! So let me know what you think we should grow. Beets are already on the list (for Ryan and Carla, and also because I love them roasted so much), as is chard (suggested by Tessa because it can be harvested leaf-by-leaf as you need it, and because it's so so delicious). What else should we attempt?

So, great news and two important steps toward my slowly-progressing goal of eating locally and being more healthy. And, a small third step – I bought a little rosemary plant earlier this week and it's happily re-potted and chillin' in the sun on my windowsill. My makeshift herb garden begins again. It's going to be an awesome, healthy and happy, summer and fall.


Leanne said...

Hi Meg,

I'm so jealous - I was on the wait list but didn't get a call! Glad that someone I know has a spot.

One note of concern - the garden is over a former gas stations, and I received an email saying that they recommend the plots for flowers, not edibles, due to the soil content. You may want to ask around before planting herbs or veggies there.


Leeeeesha said...

That's so exciting, Meg! Your very own garden right in the heart of downtown. I really hope you're able to grow edibles there, cause I'd be so into helping with your cause. I'm also a novice in the art of gardening, but have always wanted to learn more about how to do it. So count me in if you need any help with the planting.

Anonymous said...

yes, re flowers only. sorry but the ground there will be seriously contaminated and food not safe. put your name in for another one if there is one close by. It would be bad for your health to eat food from this plot. Putting a restaurant in a former dry cleaning bldg was disallowed in Cook St village due to the same reason. Sad but true.