Loutet Farm came to fruition in a unique partnership between the North Shore Neighbourhood House, the City of North Vancouver, and the University of British Columbia. Designed to give locals a better understanding of food production, Loutet Farm also means greater access to locally grown produce. Support for the Edible Garden Project at Loutet Farm began in 2013 when they participated in Social Enterprise Heroes, an annual celebration hosted by the Enterprising Non-Profits program. Vancity Community Foundation then provided further financial and strategic planning support through the Social Enterprise Portfolio program.
I have so many favourite moments on our farms. Watching children walk their parents through the garlic field to point out the exact bulb they planted last fall with their class. Watching our volunteer interns transform over the season from slightly tentative visitors to obvious stewards of this land, in the way they walk, talk, and move across the farm. The amazing transformation of the land over five short years to a rich sweet soil, able to produce more and more every year. And watching our customers revel in each week’s offerings.
- Emily Jubenvill, Manager, North Shore Neighbourhood House
Like a well-watered seed, the project sprouted. So much so that the initial goal of developing a successful urban farm on public land swiftly seemed liked small potatoes, to put it lightly. Instead, the Loutet Farm vision became more of a local food movement; a coming together of the passion for growing, tasting, sharing, and loving food. This ultimately created valuable green-collar jobs for North Shore residents, spearheading a range of workshops and hands-on learning opportunities focused on sustainable food production for both adults and children.
Today Loutet Farm is a great first step toward a local plant-to-plate food system – a facilitator of social, environmental, economic, and educational benefits for the community. In five years time, the hope is to have two additional farm sites, to be even more integrated into day-to-day classes of host schools, and to train up to five new farmers annually. And ideally, to make everyone on the North Shore aware of the sustainable farms that are available to them right in their backyards.
To Market, To Market
Thanks to a new toolkit developed by Vancity Community Foundation, farmers’ markets are now better equipped to track and demonstrate the impact of their markets. Developed in partnership with Vancity Credit Union and the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets, the toolkit builds on our experience leading the Demonstrating Value Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making impact measurement more accessible and useful. Since 2007, this collaborative, community-based initiative has offered resources, workshops, and technical support to assist non-profits and social enterprises when it comes to using information and data more effectively to make good decisions, plan for the future, and show their value.
The Farmers’ Market toolkit gives market managers the means to track and manage their own operations, as well as to collect, analyze, and communicate the value that their markets bring to their respective communities and their impact on food security, sustainable agriculture practices, community building, and the local economy.
In 2015, we began sharing our expertise below the 49th parallel as well. In developing the toolkit with the Farmers Market Coalition and the University of Wisconsin, we are advising them on ways to be able to measure the impact of farmers’ markets in the United States.
- For more on this story, read "Vancity supports growing and sharing fresh local produce in North Vancouver" (Vancity, Stories of Impact)