City beet farm

Ruth Warrens and Katie Ralphs sit cross-legged on the grass next to an enviably well-tended and prolific-looking vegetable patch in Vancouver’s residential Little Mountain neighbourhood. The plot begins a few feet from the curb bordering the quiet street and stops just shy of a backyard fence belonging to one of the area’s many quaint houses. “The people who own these houses volunteer their back and front yards, and any other available green space that sits on their property, like this one,” says Ralphs who, along with Warrens, founded City Beet Farm, “and we come and do all the work. We prepare the plot, we weed, we water, we harvest… they don’t have to do a thing. In return, we give them produce.” The rest of the harvested vegetables are doled out in CSA boxes that people have paid and signed up for at the beginning of the growing season. Community-driven and modestly brilliant, City Beet Farm brings urban agriculture to the city by cultivating strategically symbiotic relationships. And it works.

Now in their second year of growing, the Farm boasts 60 participating families; that’s 17 plots that together make up just under half an acre of growing area (you can scroll to the bottom of this post for a complete map of their plots). The over 50 varieties of vegetables they plant are grown organically and all of the work is done by Katie and Ruth, save for Thursdays — harvesting day — when a team of volunteers lend a hand picking the produce. “We’ve been interested in the politics of food production for awhile,” Ruth tells me, “After doing an internship together at Reroot Organic Farm in Ontario, we knew this is something we wanted to do for a living. Having vegetables growing right in their yards is a great way to get people to visualize and understand their connection to the land and to their food.” It’s win-win for everyone… especially those who reap the benefits of Ruth and Katie’s hard work in the form of fresh, organic and very locally grown produce.

Ruth tells me, “After doing an internship together at Reroot Organic Farm in Ontario, we knew this is something we wanted to do for a living. Having vegetables growing right in their yards is a great way to get people to visualize and understand their connection to the land and to their food.” It’s win-win for everyone… especially those who reap the benefits of Ruth and Katie’s hard work in the form of fresh, organic and very locally grown produce.