Last week, the sustainable agriculture and food systems department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University held an open house at the Garden City Lands to showcase the work that goes into growing sustainable food production.
The Garden City Lands consist of 55 hectares of municipally-owned land in the Agriculture Land Reserve, not far from the KPU Richmond campus. Eight hectares of the site is leased by the department for a teaching and research farm.
The open house gave presenters the ability to share what they have grown and the fundamental importance for people of all ages to connect with nature.
“Food systems touch every aspect of life. Knowing the challenges of our food system makes you a powerful force for creating a new, sustainable one,” reads KPU’s Sustainable Agriculture website.
Piper Kenney, outreach and volunteer coordinator at KPU, spoke about the importance of knowing where food comes from and the gratitude that comes with growing it ourselves.
“The power of being able to grow your own food is definitely a driver. You feel good about what you can produce and grow, and having people understand how food happens and takes place is important,” Kenney says.
Not only is growing food beneficial for our physical health, it can also benefit our mental health.
“Part of having a space to just sit and balance between mindless work and mindful work, can have a huge effect on one’s mental health. Watching the success of things grow and seeing a positive change through your hands, is rewarding for people.”
City Councillor and school teacher Michael Wolfe attended the event and spoke about the importance of growing our own food, especially when food prices are on the rise.
“People need to have some resiliency and … know how to grow their own food. It is a simple human skill that has been lost, and it is quite easy to recreate those opportunities by giving people access to a bit of soil,” Wolfe says.
“Learning the work that farmers have to put in to make food available at the grocery store and at restaurants is vital. It unites us as consumers of food.”
Wolfe also spoke about the importance farming can have on his students’ mental health at McNair Secondary School in Richmond.
“Quiet kids don’t speak up, but as soon as you take them outside those are the same kids who are right beside you asking questions. When you take them outside they can interact and are given freedom to explore and work outside the school structure,” Wolfe says.
“[The garden] can calm you down and you can close off all the other distractions and noises in your life, just in that moment. It is the joy of feeling like you have accomplished something you grew from start to finish.”
Another tour of the farm will be given on Aug. 9 at 7:00 pm.