Though Urban Stream is leaning much more towards our composting technology these days, we have a microfarming project on the go with Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company. Rocky Mountain bought our Urban Microfarm container a little over a year ago. And a little less than a year ago, the City of Vancouver issued a stop work order on that project due to a neighbour’s complaint.
Despite the city issuing the stop work order, they were really eager to get us up and running. We worked closely with the city to get the unit up to the city’s code. Because the City of Vancouver had never seen a project like our Microfarm, so we had to work with them to figure out which building codes we have to abide by. Ultimately, we had to change the roof on the micro-farm, upgrade the electrical and seismically anchor the shipping container to ensure that if a big earthquake hits, the container won’t budge.
This week, after the container was inspected by the engineer and our friendly-neighbourhood building inspector, the retrofits were approved! We are so happy to have gotten to this point after almost a year of retrofitting and working with the city. Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company has been so wonderfully patient with us and the city, and we couldn’t be happier to have them as a flagship customer.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be outfitting the micro-farm with our second generation worm composter and Lifespace Projects’ self-watering planter boxes and in no time at all you’ll be able to enjoy Urban Stream’s fresh greens on Rocky Mountain’s delicious flatbread pizzas.
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?
What: Urban Stream launches first commercial scale micro-farm, self contained year-round sustainable urban farming and organics diversion technology
When: Invitation only
Where: Luke’s Corner Bar and Kitchen, 2996 Granville St. (Granville and 14th)
For more information contact Wes Regan, email@example.com or 604-805-3591.
Urban Stream is a food systems technology start up that since 2009 has been developing a suite of technologies and services to help Vancouver’s food system become the most sustainable and resilient one in the world. This February will be the launch of the company’s first fully functioning commercial scale unit housed behind Luke’s Corner Bar and Kitchen on South Granville.
Urban Stream’s Micro-Farm is filling a major gap in urban food system infrastructure by offering a district scale solution for food scraps diversion and safe, clean, sustainable year-round organic food production. The technology employs classic organic agriculture practices but arranges them in a condensed system ideally suited for urban or remote environments. Often referred to as bio-mimicry, this type of system replicates the natural process of nutrient extraction and exchange that traditional organic farms have relied on for thousands of years through a novel network of vermiculture and hydroponics all within a re-purposed shipping container. With new bylaws coming into effect in 2015 requiring commercial properties like restaurants to divert up to 80% of their organic food scraps waste away from landfills Urban Stream’s timing is perfect. Luke’s is the first restaurant to house one of these units and after the demonstration a brief catered reception will be held inside.
If you are interested in knowing more about this event or Urban Stream in general please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.