When urban farmer Ilana Labow built her first bean trellis, an older woman strolling by scolded her for doing it wrong and showed her the right technique.
It’s community moments like this, along with “green collar” jobs, sustainable food sourcing and healthy eating, that Vancouver hopes to cultivate with its comprehensive food strategy unanimously approved by council Wednesday.
Organizations such as Labow’s Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society flocked to city hall to support the plan, which aims to make the city’s food supply “just and sustainable” for residents of all income levels in the face of environmental threats.
The 150-page document includes plans for more community gardens, business incubators for urban farmers, city procurement of local food, better access to farmers markets and proper disposal of food waste.
“This plan is filling a major gap here,” said Kimberley Hodgson of the Vancouver Food Policy Council, adding that implementation will be the hard part. “We have to make sure this plan isn’t a plan that sits on a shelf and collects dust.”
It’s unclear how much money will be set aside to act on the strategy’s 71 recommendations, but the councillors expressed their support for the plan that complements the existing healthy and “greenest” city goals.
Future plans to potentially tear down the viaducts, however, may clash with the food strategy as it supports the long-term security of community gardens. Viaduct removal might have a negative impact on the Cottonwood community garden, a 22-year-old space that citizens loudly defend at every opportunity.