Past Projects

The Evolution of a Seed Strategy for BC

Building on gatherings at the 2005 and 2006 COABC AGMs; a seed growers conference in February 2006 in Victoria; a number of plant-breeding workshops; and a survey of several seed growers, Susan Davidson (Glorious Organics Cooperative), Heather Pritchard (FarmFolk CityFolk) and Patrick Steiner (Stellar Seeds) worked as an informal steering committee to help build capacity for the production and quality of Certified Organic seed in British Columbia.

To this end they created a first draft of a possible Mandate and Strategies (below) with the belief that the best outcomes will be achieved by embracing the maximum involvement and collective wisdom of all those already growing seed as well as those aspiring to grow seed.

One of the tools used to gather this wisdom from farmers and seed growers was through a comprehensive seed-growing survey that distributed to all BC Certified Organic Farmers and other organic farmers and seed growers. This information was used to create some baseline data about the current state of Certified Organic seed capacity in BC.

Towards a Mandate:

  • To support BC farmers to grow more and better quality Certified Organic seed
  • To develop and promote seed growing methods that are economically viable, increase genetic diversity, and thereby foster local sustainable agriculture
  • To educate seed growers and farmers about effective plant breeding and seed saving techniques
  • To establish contacts with Canadian and bioregional organic seed growers
  • To stay informed on issues and developments affecting seed democracy
  • To build national and international partnerships with those furthering similar goals
  • To educate the public of the importance of seed quality and democracy

Towards Strategies:

  • To foster a network of BC organic seed growers
  • To develop an informative, educational, and easy to navigate website
  • To determine our existing BC organic seed growing capacity, seed inventories, and the needs of BC organic farmers
  • To develop a database serving BC organic seed growers and farmers
  • To articulate best practices guidelines for Certified Organic seed production
  • To support and develop seed distribution networks
  • To develop equipment and cleaning strategies for collective post-harvest treatment and handling
  • To organize workshops and distribute information (e.g. link with Canadian Organic Growers' research library) to organic seed growers, organic farmers, and consumers

Food Distribution Feasibility Study

FarmFolk CityFolk, in partnership with Darren Stott of Greenchain Consulting and Erin Nichols, has developed a feasibility study for a Small and Medium Farm Product Distribution service in the Lower Mainland. Our work with small to mid sized producers across the province made us aware of deep, structural challenges that exist for farmers of this size trying to get their product into the hands of consumers. This feasibility study sought to explore and analyze practical, realistic and thoughtful solutions currently in existence in comparable regions and determine necessary infrastructure required to develop home-grown distribution solutions in BC.

Initially, our area of focus was restricted to the Lower Mainland, but throughout the research and development of our study, it became apparent that the expansion of our geographic framework to include both the Okanagan and Vancouver Island would provide a more fulsome review of possible ways forward for farmers in both the Lower Mainland and across BC. Thus the, feasibility study reviewed the logistics, administration and governance of small food distribution systems that can serve small farms across the province, particularly rural transportation systems that supply urban centres. The final report in the series, available here, brings all the information together to make recommendations on the key components needed for local food distribution services, their financial performances and their coordination.

Currently, the team is developing a plan for the structure of a distribution and aggregation system in Metro Vancouver. All interested parties are encourage to contact Amber Cowie, Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Development at 604-364-3576 or

The five reports focus on specific issues discussed in the feasibility study, as follows:

Vancouver Local Food Hub: From Farm to Chopping Block

The Vancouver Local Food Hub (VLFH),, now acts as a virtual buying space with twice weekly delivery for commercial buyers across Metro Vancouver seeking to access fresh, local produce in as direct manner as possible. In 2013, FarmFolk CityFolk and the Vancouver Farmers Market partnered with Greenchain Consulting to develop a plan for the oft-requested small-scale distribution service. Consultation with producers, buyers, and community partners led to the launch of the VLFH on May 15th, 2015.

The VLFH has six producers from Metro Vancouver and the Okanagan: Taves Family Farm, Sunberry Farm, Rondriso Farm, Parson’s Farm, Crisp Organics, and Gojoy Berries. The VLFH can still accept other producers over the course of the growing season, should additional growers be interested. It provides a mix of products, grown both conventionally and organically, from specialty items like dried goji berries to kitchen staples such as salad greens. Each week, producers will update their offerings and buyers can access a range of fresh products to be delivered right to the door, twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The process is simple. Commercial buyers can create a log-in account on the Vancouver Local Food Hub site, and access fresh sheets posted by each producer for one of both of the twice weekly deliveries. Each delivery requires a $200 minimum order and arrives by noon of either Tuesday or Friday. In addition to ordering, buyers are encouraged to visit each producer’s page to learn more about the location, composition and growing practices of each farm. The true value of the hub is the ability for buyers to connect directly with growers, strengthening the local food system across British Columbia.

To learn more, or start buying, visit

If you have further questions, contact Amber Cowie, Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Development at 604-364-3576 or

Home Grown

Home Grown ExhibitHome Grown was a photographic exploration of local food production and sustainable farming in Vancouver and the surrounding region, presented in partnership with the Museum of Vancouver.

In photo-journalistic style, 39 stunning images by FarmFolk CityFolk's own, photographer Brian Harris, contained a call-to-action for individuals and communities to reclaim control of local food systems and to think carefully about the ethics of food consumption decisions that are made everyday.

Accompanying programs included; workshops, screening, talks, and tours providing a deeper understanding and appreciation of local food production issues as well as the inspiration and skills to start a backyard or community garden.

Eat Your History

Eat Your History is a series of articles written by Jeff Nield and Joanne Will and guest edited by J.B. MacKinnon, co-creator of the 100-Mile Diet. What's it about? Food. Place. History. A stimulated mind and happy taste buds. From the Olympia Oyster to Salt Spring Island's Ruckle Bean this written feast inspires a renaissance of BC's unique local foods. The online series can be read here: and they have also been included in a book called Harvested Here: Delicious Thinking about Local Eating, available from FarmFolkCityFolk (call us!) or The Tyee.

Grain Chain

Our grain project aims to expand the production of grains, flour and bread in SW BC where there is an increasing number of farmers growing grain. The goal of this project is to network the growers and to provide workshops around planting, growing methods, harvesting, milling and baking. We've been working with Chris Hergesheimer, our grain researcher, who completed his MA in Sociology (SFU 2009) with this thesis "Weaving chains of grain: Exploring the stories, links and boundaries of small scale grain initiatives in Southwestern British Columbia." Visit the Urban Grains website for the grain CSA part of the project.

Urban Chickens

We helped promote keeping backyard chickens in Vancouver and in June 2010, City of Vancouver guidelines were enacted as amendments to the Animal Control Bylaw and Zoning and Development Bylaw. For details on the bylaw amendment and information on raising chickens, including workshop times and places, visit the Chickens In Vancouver website. For key questions and answers or to register your backyard hen(s), please visit Vancouver Food Policy Council.

Back Yard Bounty

A partnered project of FarmFolk CityFolk and the Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA) the Backyard Bounty Collective (BBC) was a collection of four new small businesses based in Vancouver that focus on backyard food systems that you may not (yet) see on your daily stroll down the lane. A recipient of Vancity's enviroFund award, Backyard Bounty will help four 'Farmpreneurs' partner with Vancouver residents to design, build, and maintain small farming operations on their residential property. Four separate agriculture applications - apiculture (honeybee keeping), aquaponics (fish and vegetable closed tank system), chicken/egg farming, and mushroom farming - will be offered to urban dwellers under the guidance and support of the Environmental Youth Alliance. A strong public education component accompanies the project, cultivating the broader goal of food security and raising more of our own food closer to home.

The project was officially launched at Vancouver City Hall in April, 2010 with a tasting menu prepared by Chef Andrea Carlson of Bishop’s restaurant, served to city councillors beside the City’s own community garden. Food featured ingredients that can be raised in the various systems developed by the Backyard Bounty Collective members. Among the guests of distinction were Councilors Andrea Reimer and Heather Deal. The members of the collective were available with demonstration models of their systems for public viewing.

The Environmental Youth Alliance is committed to widespread education and empowerment of youth, school-aged kids and community members. Through public workshops, client relationships, online blogging and resources, and educational events the collective seeks to play a role in providing and developing sustainable, local and ethical food sources for people in urban environments in Metro Vancouver.

Trout Lake Cedar Cottage Food Security Network

The TLCC Food Security Network is an active collaboration of community members, agencies, service providers and organizations working together to enhance the health and well-being in our neighborhoods by supporting and coordinating local food security initiatives and improving access to community health, social services and community-based programs.

Seasonal Sustainability Series

This was a series of community-based events that educated both farm and city folks on a variety of sustainable food and agricultural issues. Each event included an educational film, knowledgeable speakers, and a meal highlighting local, seasonal foods. Our Seasonal Sustainability Series promoted lively and informed discussion as well as an opportunity to network with others directly involved in the creation of a local sustainable food system. Events included: CUBA: Seeds of Sustainability (March 2005), Outstanding in Her Field (March 2006), Seeds (June 2006), Seeds in the City: The Greening of Havana (March 2007), Is our Food Ripe for our Climate? (June 2007), Hijacked Future (March 2008), Tableland (June 2008), Weaving the Chains: Heritage Grains & CSAs (April 2009)

Incredible Edible Tours

Our public surveys indicated people wanted in-depth farm tours with transportation provided and thus the Incredible Edible Tours were born. Our Incredible Edible Tours promoted consumer awareness of the benefits of supporting BC agriculture and food and beverage processors. This project was developed over a period of three years with a grant from Investment Agriculture to create a financially self-sufficient project. We are pleased to have succeeded and to those interested in starting similar tours in other areas of British Columbia, read our "Organizing Farm Tours" report. (pdf 2.2MB) Our tour program is currently “on hold” and may again resurface after the economy stabilizes. Read an article in the Georgia Straight by Angela Murrills about our unique tour program.

C-FEED (Colony Farm Employment & Enterprise Development)

Funded by the VanCity Community Foundation, FF/CF conducted the initial research and developed a draft business plan for a 20-acre farm parcel at Colony Farm. As our partners, PICS (Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society), hold the GVRD lease for this parcel, FarmFolk CityFolk granted the remaining project funds to PICS to complete the business plan.

Multi-functionality of Agricultural Land Project

The Real Estate Foundation of BC has funded FF/CF to produce an Organic Agricultural Plan (OAP) for 160 acres on GVRD Colony Farm Park. The former site of the "Home Farm", the land had been designated for agriculture by the GVRD Land Use Plan. Using permaculture principles, the OAP will promote a triple bottom line: environmental protection, economic viability and community building. MALP is a collaborative effort involving the stakeholders of Colony Farm, community partners, and the public. A design workshop resulted in a clearer understanding regarding the project requirements/process with the GVRD. The results will be made public at the March 12 2004 Growing Green Launch.

Growing Green Food/Agricultural Law Reform

This was a 2-year collaboration with West Coast Environmental Law and The Liu Institute for Global Issues, focused on a multi-disciplinary project to develop sustainable food law and policy reform proposals as they apply to growing food in BC and Canada, particularly southern Vancouver Island. Click here for a complete project description.

Lower Mainland Food Council Action Workshop

In response to the closing, in November 2001, of the Vancouver Food Policy Organization, we hosted a public meeting in December 2002 at UBC School of Social Work to discuss the possibility of creating a Food Policy Council. Wayne Roberts from the Toronto Food Policy Council was our special guest. Folks who attended this meeting have temporarily named themselves the Lower Mainland Food Council. A sub-committee from this group spent the spring of 2003 writing a paper that introduces food policy "Closer to Home: A Recipe for a Community-Based Food Organization" which was presented to attendees at the Food Council's June 12 & 13 Action Workshop in Vancouver. The paper and workshop were made possible with the generous assistance of Health Canada, the Growing Green project, and the Vancouver Agreement Food Task Team. Follow-up reports were prepared for government officials and the City of Vancouver, in December 2003, voted for the creation of the Vancouver Food Policy Council positions in 2004.

Urban Food Network (formerly Lower Mainland Food Coalition)

The participants at the June food council workshop decided to continue their discussions and networking after the workshop. They called themselves the "Lower Mainland Food Coalition" and have now (2005) changed this group name to the Urban Food Network. A listserve has been set up for network members, to subscribe, send an email to

Colony Farm - Older Worker's Pilot Project

Partnered with the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS) and the BC Society for Sustainable Agriculture, Jobs & Education (SAJE), FarmFolk CityFolk created a curriculum for a sustainable agricultural training program at Colony Farm. The purpose of this project was to introduce sustainable, organic farming methods to immigrant farm workers.

CBAC (Canadian Biotech Advisory Committee)

Our founder, Herb Barbolet, is again working with CBAC as part of a reference group. The first was a Reference Group to advise on the public consultation process and their research agenda. The second committee is an Exploratory Committee (GM Foods Reference Group) to help organize focus groups to explore the possibility of devising a tool (called an Acceptability Spectrum) for dialogue. The reason the tool is needed is that officially recognized public discourse was stuck on whose science is the correct science and on such claims as "biotech is just an extension of what farmers have always done". This tool has already facilitated the expansion of the dialogue with government and industry into the areas of ethics, social and environmental considerations. Herb Barbolet continues to work with CBAC.

Organic Farming Internship Project

Our Organic Farming Internship Project started in the summer of 2001. We partnered five youth with skilled organic farmers in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (for a period of three months). All interns learned a basic set of organic farming skills and contracted with farmer/instructors to accomplish an individualized set of clearly defined learning goals. FarmFolk CityFolk helped clarify these learning goals, facilitated positive relationships, and tracked intern learning. Project participants (youth interns and farmers) were also actively involved in a dynamic research process that consisted of creating actual learning experiences while also reflecting on and evaluating those experiences. These one-on-one partnerships provided valuable opportunities for mentorship and mutual learning. The participatory research process helped to highlight many of the issues and challenges associated with teaching organic farming skills. It also highlighted the need to work with other farms throughout the province (especially those who already offer internships and apprenticeships) and educational institutions to develop a more coordinated, regional approach toward training. During the spring of 2002, FarmFolk/CityFolk facilitated a list-serve for folks interested in "Teaching Organic Farming" which created many lively discussions regarding what is currently offered and what is still needed, with regards to training for organic farming. In the summer of 2002, we worked with 2 youth interns.

Roots & Shoots

This project works with immigrant communities to develop organic gardens in the BC Lower Mainland area. Its goals are to enhance food sufficiency/security and access to adequate and culturally appropriate food; foster intercultural connections and literacy skills; revise and record traditional sustainable agriculture knowledge; identify needs for access to land, seed, and knowledge; and provide experience of organic growing. In its successful first year (1998-99) it worked with groups from the Japanese and Latin American communities on land donated by West Coast Seeds in Richmond. In 2000 and 2001 the project worked with Kurdish, Taiwanese, and Mayan groups, whose three gardens were located at a site at the University of British Columbia where the Faculty of Agriculture provided one acre of land on the South Campus Farm. In 2002, UBC determined that, of the three groups, only the Mayan fit their educational mandate. FarmFolk/CityFolk is working with the Taiwanese and Kurdish to locate appropriate farmland for 2005 so Roots & Shoots can continue, as well, we are looking into adding a third culture to the Roots & Shoots project, the Cambodian community.


In January 2002, Greater Vancouver embarked on an innovative initiative in Cities Planning for Long-Term Urban Sustainability - or citiesPLUS. As part of an international competition, Greater Vancouver will represent Canada in showing how a large metropolitan area can reach the destination of sustainability over the next 100 years. Our Executive Director, Herb Barbolet, has participates in their Intensive Design Charette as well as co-wrote the (August 2002) citiesPLUS paper.

Downtown Eastside Community Food Mapping Project

During the summer of 2002, in partnership with the Food Providers Coalition, a small number of Downtown Eastside food-service patrons were asked to complete a survey questionnaire through in-person interviews. The interviews were conducted at four of the major free-food services in the area. The survey results will help to assess the ability of the existing food service facilities to meet the identified needs of the growing number of food service patrons. The results will also help to identify the type of food services required in the area in order to increase the health and sense of social well being in the community.

Deconstructing Supper

We hosted the world premier of "Deconstructing Supper" - a film by local filmmaker Marianne Kaplan. Do you wonder where your food comes from? Chef John Bishop travels near and farm, talking with organic farmer, Michael Ableman, as well as biotech firms and women farmers in India...on a quest to deconstruct what is on your dinner plate. (This film also airs January 24/03 on Vision TV). Read about the film and see what VanEats had to say about this inspiring, educational, delicious event.

Hollyhock Sustainable Agriculture

FarmFolk/CityFolk joined organizations from several different fields, including agriculture, environment, health, and social justice in sharing information and assessing the need to promote sustainable agriculture. Groups attending agreed that FarmFolk/CityFolk, appropriately restructured, could lead the way for the "food movement".

Community-Based Food Policy (C-Base)

This was the last year of the Community-Based Food Policy project, sponsored by FarmFolk/CityFolk and headed by Cathleen Kneen. Working with 16 communities throughout BC, local food systems were assessed and coalitions were created. An annual food security conference has been established in Sorrento, a listserve and a website have been created for the BC Food Systems Network:

Secrets from the Farm, Making the Bounty Last

This event, at the Granville Island Public Market, showcased BC farm products with farmer truck sales, cooking & food preserving demonstrations, and information tables. Together with the Market and (the now defunct) BuyBC program, we produced a booklet with advice and tips on food preservation (Secrets from the Farm booklet.)

Eliot Coleman Luncheon - Why Stop in October?

Along with the COABC and BCARA, FarmFolk CityFolk hosted a slide-show luncheon with guest, Eliot Coleman. Mr. Coleman is a winter farmer from Maine, USA. He shared his knowledge and has inspired many BC farmers who want to participate in a pilot project for winter farming in various areas of our province. The luncheon was catered by Food & Service Resource Group, lead by Chef James Kennedy. The Food & Service Resource Group trains youth-at-risk for careers in the restaurant/culinary fields.

School of Social Work, Community Food Mapping Exercise

FarmFolk CityFolk hosted this UBC School of Social Work exercise/discussion to map out what our current food system looks like and what an ideal system might look like and how it could function.

Canadian Alert on Genetic Engineering (CAGE)

After helping organize the Big Money/Bad Science Teach-in during November 2000 (A Citizen's Response to Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering), FarmFolk CityFolk continued their involvement with CAGE raising Canadian awareness of the dangers of genetically modified organisms.

E-Dialogue on Social Capital

(Royal Roads University) FarmFolk CityFolk's Executive Director, Herb Barbolet, participated as a panelist. The purpose of this e-dialogue was to explore the relationship between social capital and sustainable development, and specifically how social capital contributes to local, community development. Each day of the dialogue explored one of the following questions: What is social capital? What is the relationship between social capital and sustainable development? Who can build or destroy social capital?

Who Cares?

Our former Executive Director, Herb Barbolet, spent 8 months as a member of the "Who Cares?" Dialogue Group at Simon Fraser University. The purpose of this group was to engage in a series of dialogues concerned with civil society and social obligations.

Building A Sustainable FarmFolk CityFolk

Robert Bick and Joan Goodhue of Robert Bick & Associates volunteered 3 months of their time, assisting FarmFolk CityFolk with a new project management/methodology process and the start of a re-organizational structure within the office. Robert Bick & Associates assist businesses and organizations with Process Mapping, Process Improvement, and Project Management. They do their best work when they help you do yours. For information, call 604-264-7812 or email Robert Bick

Vancouver Food Policy Organization

Located in the FarmFolk CityFolk office, the Vancouver Food Policy Organization was organized by Jennifer Coulson. Jennifer has resigned from the VFPO and is now part of the FarmFolk/CityFolk Board of Directors/Stewardship Team. She is contributing her knowledge and skills towards the larger picture of food security. FarmFolk CityFolk took on the work of the VFPO - starting with the Downtown Eastside Community Food Mapping Project (Summer 2002) and has now passed it over to the new Vancouver Food Policy Council.

The Potluck Cafe

The Potluck Café Project is a new initiative of Save Our Living Environment (SOLE) in co-operation with the Portland Hotel Society (PHS), A Loving Spoonful (ALS), Central City Mission Foundation (CCMF), and FarmFolk CityFolk Society (FFCF). SOLE is a non-profit urban environmental group that works to improve the physical, social and economic environment of Vancouver’s inner city through the development of self-sustaining enterprises that employ local labour and resources. The Potluck Café has introduced affordable, home-style dining in the designated café space on the main floor of the new Portland Hotel. The project will demonstrate how nutrition can be a vital link in the transformation of community life.

BC SPCA Farm Animal Welfare Program

Together with a coalition of agencies including FarmFolk CityFolk and the University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Department, the BC SPCA has created a set of standards to allow producers who invest extra time and money in humane production methods to identify their products with an "SPCA Certified" sticker.