Edible City – Growing the Revolution


“…The time of the lone wolf is over.

Gather yourselves.

Banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary.

All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

For we are the ones we have been waiting for.”

  ~ Hopi Elders Prophesy


Last Wednesday, April 17, I attended one of the “movie-nights” organized by Village Surrey in partnership with Surrey Libraries   and The Farmers Market.

We presented “Edible City”  , a documentary that explores a few projects carried by grassroots groups in US, whose goals were to enhance food security for vulnerable population while ensuring the food was healthy and affordable. More than food, they were doing social work as well as creating awareness and empowering people.

More than 70 people attended, and we also distributed free seeds donated by Dan Jason from Salt Spring Seeds.

Although I have watched this documentary many times before, I found it particularly emotional this day.

People cheered when the documentary ended, and many shared questions, ideas and concerns about our own communities and homes’ food security and what to do about it.

By this time, many know that industrial agriculture is not sustainable: it is strongly dependent on fertilizers and pesticides, complex irrigation systems and machinery. Not just that all of this also depends on fossil fuels and subsidies, but it is also destroying the environment and people’s health. First, industrial agriculture can only develop monocultures. Because of this, it destroys diversity and erodes the soils. Lack of diversity is extremely dangerous: it takes one pest or disease to kill thousands of acres of crops and spread out fast. In order to combat this, industrial agriculture created GMOs, so they can survive in different conditions and resist pests. But nature doesn’t work like that, so pests develop resistance…it is a game we cannot win.

 There are many other issues: industrial agriculture needs lots of land and water. Forests are cut and aquifers are depleted to feed this “business”. This all increases CO2 emissions that in turn worsen Climate Change, which in turn creates more droughts and floods and extreme weather events, which in turn impact food production…

 Land is being turned into deserts, aquifers into empty caves, rivers into just streams, seas into small lakes

Most agriculture land is actually dedicated to crops to feed livestock or to grow crops for biofuels, not human food.

Pesticides not just kill the “pests” they are supposed to kill, but other bugs that actually help us, such as the bees, which take care of at least 1/3 of the pollination of crops.

I could continue on and on, but I think I have made the point. We have less food security now that human beings had 200, 150 or even 50 years ago.

The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.”
~ Joel Salatin, Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

And this is applicable to many other countries, not just the US.

Food is also becoming increasingly expensive and unhealthy: we have less and less access to real, healthy food, and the poorer people are, the less access: organic food tends to be expensive and difficult to find in certain neighbourhoods.

That is why this documentary shook a fibre in me: because it proposes sustainable ways of how people can grow their own food and become almost self-sufficient.

Here are some other ideas you may want to explore if you live in the Lower Mainland:

Shake the hand that feeds you.”
~ Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

  • Join a CSA: CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is an agreement between families and a local farmer where the family pays the farmer a “share” and gets, in turn, a box full of seasonal, usually organic grown vegetables and fruits. Some CSAs can also include eggs, milk and cheese.
  • Buy at your local Farmers’ Market: these markets support small, local farmers and tend to sell organically grown veggies and fruits. Some have membership options that may provide some benefits.
  • Join a Community Garden: there are a few gardens in Surrey area: some are located in city land, some in churches, some use school land and some belong to private owners who share the land with their neighbours. If you can’t find a community garden close to your home or work, try to start one.
  • Start growing some of your food: you can grow from herbs to fruits, depending on the size of your yard, or even in containers in a balcony or deck. You just need a spot with enough sun and a water source. Lots of love and care and the willingness to take control of one of the most important thing in anybody’s life: FOOD. (In case you are wondering, the other important ones are air, water, shelter and protection from the environment, or clothing)
  • Learn to preserve food: when you know how to preserve, you can buy seasonal food in bulk and make sauces, jams, etc. and keep enough food for when prices are high or an emergency strikes.

There are many resources where to learn this, starting from books at our local library, taking courses at your local community center or asking around to find groups that offer them:

If by now you still think you can count on the supermarket to feed yourself and your family forever, I encourage you to read more, do your own research and also try. I promise it is fun and easy, you’ll make friends during the journey and the most important part is that you will feel a relief, a sense of accomplishment and security that comes from knowing that you are no longer dependant.

 Food security is not in the supermarket. It’s not in the government. It’s not at the emergency services division. True food security is the historical normalcy of packing it in during the abundant times, building that in-house larder, and resting easy knowing that our little ones are not dependent on next week’s farmers’ market or the electronic cashiers at the supermarket.”
~ Joel Salatin, Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World


CSAs in Surrey area:

South Surrey: http://www.arocha.ca/kingfisher-farm-csa-south-surrey-bc/

South Delta: http://www.earthwisesociety.bc.ca/

Cloverdale: http://sundogveggies.wordpress.com/

North Surrey: Zaklan Heritage Farm: http://zaklanheritagefarm.com/

More CSA’s: http://www.farmfolkcityfolk.ca/resources/knowledge-pantry/csa/

Note: this list may not be complete, please ask around and contact me if you find other CSAs not listed here.

Surrey Harvest Boxes Program: http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/1697.aspx?form=4&categoryIDs=49&frmSubmit=Search

Surrey Farmers Market: http://www.surreymarket.org/

Other Farmers Markets and Farms that may have CSA’s: http://www.bcfarmfresh.com/

City of Surrey Community Gardens: https://www.surrey.ca/plans-strategies/7108.aspx

Information and support to start a community garden:

For cities and institutions: http://www.toolkit.bc.ca/sites/default/files/DIG%20IT-%20MAY%208-FINAL%20WITH%20LOGOS.pdf

For regular people/neighbours: http://cydi.ca/

Books on growing your own food in the city:

Urban AgricultureIdeas and designs for the new Food Revolution, by David Tracey

The Urban Food Revolution – Changing the Way We Feed Cities, by Peter Ladner

Food not Lawns – How to turn your yard into a garden and your neighbourhood into a community, by H.C. Flores

The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, by Niki Jabbour

The Everything Small-Space Gardening Book, by Catherine Abbott

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, by Edward C. Smith

Herb Gardening for Canada, by Laura Peters

Any Size, Anywhere Edible Gardening, by William Moss

The Twelve Month Gardener – a West Coast Guide, by Stevens, Hungerford, Fancourt-Smith, Mitchel and Buffa

Books on Wild Edible Plants:

Backyard Medicine, by Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal

Nature’s Garden – A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants, by Samuel Thayer

The Forager’s Harvest, by Samuel Thayer

Books on food preservation:

Complete Book of Home Preserving, by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine

The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preservin, by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard

Independence Days – A guide to sustainable food storage & preservation, by Sharon Astyk

Preserving Food without freezing or canning, by the Gardeners and Farmers of Terre Vivante

Most of these books can be found at your local library or bought from: http://www.newsociety.com/

Workshops and courses:

Gardening: http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/1697.aspx?form=4&categoryIDs=39&frmSubmit=Search

Where to buy organic, non GMO or patented seeds:

Salt Spring Seeds: http://www.saltspringseeds.com/

West Coast Seeds: http://www.westcoastseeds.com/

Books about seeds:

The Seed UndergroundA growing Revolution to Save Food, by Janisse Ray

Saving Seeds as if our lives depended on it, by Dan Jason

Other interesting resources:

If you are interested in reading more about the current problems with food security:

Empires of Food – Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations, by Fraser and Rimas

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan

Seeds of Deception, by Jeffrey M. Smith

Folks, this ain’t normal, by Joel Salatin


Edible City, grow the revolution: http://ediblecitythemovie.com/grow-the-revolution/

How Permaculture can save humanity and the Earth but not civilization: http://youtu.be/8nLKHYHmPbo

A Farm for the Future (BBC Documentary): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3sxMByA1R0

%d bloggers like this: