UBC Farm: A Paradise in the City

UBC Farm

Here at The Good Stuff, we know that what comes out of your blender is only as good as what goes into it. So we're profiling some of the great B.C. suppliers we buy from. Next up: UBC Farm!

Ah, UBC Farms, the place where it all started. When The Good Stuff was just two guys experimenting with vegetable combinations in our backyard, UBC Farm stepped up as our first-ever supplier. To this day, we still buy our leafy greens from them and visit whenever possible.

Below is an interview between myself and one of their employees, Chiyi.

Mike: UBC Farm has come a long way in the past decade. Tell me a bit about how it has changed.

Chiyi: 10 years ago, UBC Farm actually wasn’t even a real part of UBC. It was just a section land that had become home to various farming projects taken on by UBC students, faculty members and community groups. Since it was close to UBC, it became called UBC Farms, but it was officially zoned as a “Future Housing Reserve”, and by 2008 that threatened to become a reality.

This is when the “Save The Farm” movement began.

UBC Save The Farm

The community began doing everything from fundraising to canvassing to guerilla marketing. This culminated on October 8, 2008, when students presented 16,000 signatures in support of the farm to UBC and Metro Vancouver, who moved to keep it as part of UBC. Farm saved!

Fun fact: The Heritage Apple Orchard on the farm that has over 70 types of apples, the most of anywhere in B.C. This was created specifically during the Save The Farm campaign to demonstrate the biodiversity the farm was capable of.

What kind of research does UBC Farm do?

Most people know that the farm is an education hub for UBC’s Land and Food Systems program. However, UBC Farm works with virtually every other faculty on campus as well, from business to sociology.

My favourite research project right now is the faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s work in engineering a better honeybee. It has genome implications not just for our endangered bee population but for humans as well.

UBC Farm Bees

How does UBC Farm get involved in the community?

Part of UBC Farm’s mission is to transform our society’s relationship with the land. In order to do that, you have to experience the land! So we offer opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved. Some examples:

An interesting one: weddings. In the past couple years we’ve had  a tidal wave of interest in weddings! For some people, they choose to marry here because they have deep emotional ties to our food system and the farm holds symbolic value. For others, they just like the cottage-y outdoor atmosphere. But we see even that as a great opportunity for those people to begin to connect to their food.

UBC Farm Wedding

UBC Farm recently became Certified Organic. What does that mean and why did you do that?

Being Certified Organic means complying with COABC’s accepted growing practices for responsible, sustainable growing.

We have always been a place that people look to for great growing practices. So unlike other farms, becoming Certified Organic didn’t mean changing our production as much as investing in recordkeeping and regulation.

We were happy to make that investment because it allows us to engage in this Province’s dialogue around good growing and organic land use. It also helps our customers like yourself that are committed to organic agriculture :)

How can people buy UBC Farm’s goods?

We sell our crops in three ways:

  1. Wholesale, to people like The Good Stuff and local restaurants like Vij’s.
  2. At our seasonal Farm Markets every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday
  3. Through our CSA Box program. It’s currently full and there’s waitlist every year!

UBC Farm Market

What’s next for UBC Farm?

Well, this winter we’re going to keep our chickens and bees year-round for the first time. We’re also continuing to grow our winter crops, like kale and squash, for as long as possible.

The Farm is open to the public - come down and say hi anytime!

Want to read about The Good Stuff’s other suppliers? See below:

Fresh Roots: Leafy Greens From Urban Schools

Discovery Organics: B.C.’s Fairtrade Pioneers