British Columbia

Urban farmers transform Vancouver lawns into vegetable gardens

City Beet Farm, based in Vancouver's Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, uses turf space for growing plots to provide fresh produce for the community.

City Beet Farm uses turf space as growing plots to provide fresh produce for the community

Urban farmer Elana Evans says they have installed vegetable gardens on 15 properties this summer. (@citybeetfarm/Instagram)

An innovative urban farm in Vancouver's Mount Pleasant neighbourhood is going even more hyper-local than a farmers' market by growing carrots and kale on the very blocks its customers live on.

Elana Evans, an urban farmer, along with her business partner Maddy Clerk, run City Beet Farm. The organization converts regular yards — in the front or the back — into vegetable plots. 

In exchange for the use of the land, each homeowner gets a share of the vegetables grown on the plots. City Beet Farm sells the excess produce through a vegetable box program which runs during the summer months from June to October.

Elana Evans of City Beet Farm. (@citybeetfarm/Instagram)

Evans says converting a grass lawn into a vegetable plot takes a bit of work.

"We rent something called a roto-tiller. It basically turns up the lawn. We wait a few weeks usually, have it covered to break down the grasses, and then we'll bring in some pretty high quality organic compost to start amending the soil," Evans said.

Currently, City Beet Farm farms 15 properties, and 80 members have signed up for the vegetable box program. Evans says they're not looking for more properties for this season as they already have enough work for employees.

The team grows a wide variety of vegetables including leafy greens, carrots, beets, radishes, tomatoes, peppers, squash, onion, and garlic.

What a typical vegetable box looks like:

The program has been beneficial to both Evans and the homeowners. Evans says she's gained practical farming skills, and many of the homeowners have appreciated having what amounts to a free landscaping service. 

But more importantly, she's been able to create deep connections within the community.

"Watching their families grow and hearing how they use the food and and they're earnest and interested in wanting to know their farmer — it's something that's very fulfilling," she said.

Listen to the full interview here:

With files from On The Coast