Urban Stream Interviewed on Foodline Radio with VUFS and others
Foodline Radio, a local food and food security show on Vancouver Co-op Radio, recently interviewed Urban Stream’s Wes Regan, Karen Ageson from Farmers on 57th and SOLEfood‘s Seann Dory, on urban farming trends in Vancouver. Local author and previous City Councilor Peter Ladner also chimed in via phone and Truck Farm/Strathcona 1890 Urban Seeds Collective founder Judy Kenzie probed some of the issues further with an opening monologue and some questions towards the end, particularly around urban farming business models. Wes and Karen were also wearing their respective Vancouver Urban Farming Society hats as current Treasurer and Vice-President of the VUFS.
The interview weaves through several areas but chief among them include:
- the generational context of urban and rural farming (the average age of farmers has steadily increased, yet urban farming has been embraced largely by younger, often university educated men and women)
- How can we reconcile interest in local food, and the need for urban farms to be financially feasible, with food security issues and access to healthy local foods for lower income communities.
- The economics of food production, and urban farming. Often times farmers are charging premium prices at farmers markets or in local stores or are growing for restaurants (often high end). This relates to the previous question of food equity/food justice and food access, for lower income earners in cities like Vancouver. But there is also a strong argument that we have undervalued or forcibly devalued the true costs of food production – farmers deserve to make a decent living feeding us and the current economics of food production rest on often exploitative and entropic forces, poor labor standards and wages and ever increasing economies of scale – which in turn drive prices down. Not to mention the exclusion of negative externality costs like water runoff causing eutrophication. This issue of recalibrating the economics of food production while enabling better and broader food access for locally grown foods is a broader policy problem that Karen Ageson suggests should not just be on the farmer’s shoulders, we need to find ways to reconcile these two things, farmers shouldn’t just be told they charge too much and be expected to sell their foods for as cheap as possible.
- What does urban farming look like? Similar to a previous blog post here the discussion also ventured into the practice of urban farming vs urban horticulture and gardening, technologies or processes being developed or adopted, infrastructure gaps etc. What are the newest trends and how do we differentiate these various things?