Vancouver, Canada: Michael Ableman’s Street Farm celebrates the transformation of asphalt into market gardens.


A book review from BC Book Look (abbreviated)

The Sole Food Street Farms initiative in Vancouver has been described by its innovators as North America’s largest urban farm project, boasting an annual yield of 50,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables from five paved sites, 4.5 acres in total, employing 75 people from 2009.


It all happens amid the asphalt and squalor of the Lower Track of Canada’s most expensive city (the urban area near Main and Hastings is not called the Downtown Eastside anymore).

Dr. Gabor Maté calls it “a great antidote to pessimism.”

Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson says, “It’s an ingenious use of space that has been vacant or otherwise discarded.”

During the program’s seventh growing season, co-founder and director Michael Ableman has published Street Farm: Growing Food, Jobs, and Hope on the Urban Frontier (Chelsea Green Publishing $33.20) to celebrate an initiative that he says operates on a scale unprecedented in North America.

A book launch with high profile chefs at Main & Terminal will be held on October 6, emceed by Fred Lee. Entry is $175 per person.

According to publicity materials, Sole Food pays $300,000 in annual wages to employees including 25 individuals dealing with drug addiction and mental illness.

“If you stretch your concept of what a family is, move beyond the stereotype of Mom, Dad and the kids,” said Ableman, “and you could say that the Sole Food farms and the community of farmers and eaters that rely on us are just that—a family. And for many of our staff, this family may be the only one they have ever had.”

All crops are grown in soilfilled growing boxes. It is claimed the overall yield for this growing system is 15 to 25 times higher than conventional “open field” growing systems. . .

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Question for this article: