A local foundation wants Vancouverites to become more familiar with Chinese vegetables, hoping to build a stronger market for locally-grown Asian produce.

The Hua Foundation has prepared a bilingual seasonal choi guide that describes a selection of Chinese vegetables, when they are in season, and which ones are grown in B.C.

Co-director Claudia Li says the foundation is particularly concerned about the long-term viability of produce markets located in Vancouver's Chinatown.

"The demographic in Chinatown is changing very quickly and it's important to support these family-owned businesses," says Hua Foundation co-director Claudia Li.

Li says a lot of the English-only speakers moving into the historic neighbourhood don't have the knowledge or the experience to buy and cook with Chinese vegetables like bok choi, kohlrabi and gai lan.

Bok choi

Do you know what this Chinese vegetable is called? The Hua Foundation has prepared a seasonal choi guide describing a selection of Chinese vegetables, when they are in season, and which ones are grown in B.C. (CBC / Maryse Zeidler)

She thinks the Chinese produce businesses are struggling to keep up with the change in clientele.

The foundation is also targeting younger Canadians of Chinese descent who never learned to shop for and cook with the food of their childhood.

"The goal is to bridge that generational gap where my parents and my grandparents knew the best seasonal, freshest vegetables to buy," says Li.

The foundation has also partnered with the family-owned grocery store Chinatown Supermarket on Keefer Street by offering bilingual signage.

The signs, in English and Chinese, show where the vegetables were grown, whether or not they have pesticides, and if they are in season.

Li says the foundation would like to expand to include more businesses and is hoping to partner with the Chinatown Business Improvement Association.

The seasonal choi guide is available online, or can be picked up in person at a range of locations including Chinatown Supermarket, Fresh Roots Urban Farming Society, Vancouver Farmers Markets and Vancouver Public Library.

With files from Deborah Goble