Making urban farming a viable, reliable, and economically sustainable system of food production requires strong support and union between small-scale farmers and businesses. Across North America—and the world—new farming societies are emerging that connect those who are part of the local food movements. The Vancouver Urban Farming Society (VUFS) has been doing just that since its unofficial formation in 2010.
VUFS is a convening organization that strengthens the growth of urban farming through education, advocacy, networking, and business support. The society originally intended to support the development of Sole Food, an urban farm that provides work opportunities for downtown residents. With growing numbers of members and interest, the organization officially inaugurated as VUFS at their first AGM in 2012.
Communications manager Lisa Rilkoff says that the society is designed for “farmers who choose to grow and sell food in the city and are challenging the conventional norm of what it is to be a farmer.”
VUFS organizes workshops, events, and farm tours for new and established farmers so they can build a diverse range of farm skills, meet other urban farm folk, and explore a variety of farm business models.
Every November, VUFS hosts the Vancouver Urban Farming Forum, which provides valuable learning and networking opportunities for established and emerging farmers. The Forum is a full-day event with sessions on a variety of urban farming topics, such as resources and support for farmers, farm business planning, lessons learned about starting a farm, and urban farming in relation to Indigenous food sovereignty, youth engagement, and the rights of migrant workers.
“In Vancouver, we have urban farmers growing microgreens in warehouses, trading vegetables for the use of yards, and farming in schoolyards, parking lots, health facilities, and other spaces,” says Rilkoff. “By showcasing and supporting this diversity of growing practices, we provide a place for these innovators to be part of an urban farming network, as opposed to going it alone.”