- promote local food gardens in small urban spaces.
- promote sustainable seed harvesting and genetic preservation of heritage, open-pollinated seeds. Some of our seeds are becoming quite rare and we hope that people will save and pass along seeds from their crops to family and friends to grow in their gardens.
- give children the opportunity to grow food crops through partnerships with inner city schools, community centres and day cares.
- help create jobs in Vancouver’s low-income/poverty-stricken Downtown Eastside - offering people a hand up instead of a hand out.
- help Vancouver reach its goal to promote local, sustainable food resources and a greener environment.
- remind us of generations past, when families always grew at least some of their own food.
Urban Salad Seeds: a collection of heirloom seeds that are appropriate for container growing on condo balconies, rooftop gardens and even classroom windowsills. They are packaged in a reusable and biodegradable container that can be used for saving seeds or even starting seedlings in. The design of the package reminds us of a time when most people still grew their own food on their own land.
Almost all city dwellers depend on food from large chain grocery stores that supply food produced by large corporations and transported from points all over the globe. Apart from the fact that the distribution chain is spewing out greenhouse gasses, food
costs are on the rise and there are more and more questions arising about the quality and safety of our food (irradiation, contamination, pesticides etc.) .
By supplying seeds that can grow in balcony containers we are giving people who live in the city the opportunity to grow their own food. Each Urban Salad pack contains eight individual packages of seeds such as lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, peppers, onions or chives, beans or peas, and edible flowers. So not only do your salads taste great, they look good too.
Heirloom seeds are a living legacy. They represent the generations of families who grew and harvested them. Some of these varieties have been forgotten over time. Many are no longer planted in an age where hybrid or genetically modified crops dominate. Hybrids (which are commonly found in big box stores) might perform a bit better, but an heirloom has something a hybrid does not. Because the heirloom seed germ is open-pollinated, the seed has the ability to reproduce exactly the same plant, year after year, unlike a hybrid seed which can result in a number of different looking offspring, and may produce sterile seeds after the first planting. When people choose to save seeds for future years they are helping ensure that heirloom varieties will be here for future generations. As well, saving seeds saves money because you don't have to buy new seeds every year.
Remember when you were a kid? Exploring the garden, discovering new things. Pulling out a fresh carrot from the earth to eat or maybe picking a delicious, ripe apple off a tree. It was such a pure and magical experience. And the reality is that fewer and
fewer kids are getting the opportunity to experience these things. Especially in Vancouver's gritty Downtown Eastside.
This project is born in Strathcona, which is Vancouver 's oldest neighbourhood and part of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. It is a neighbourhood with many challenges. In June of 2007 The Vancouver Sun newspaper quoted the United Nations as describing the Downtown Eastside as “a two-kilometre-square stretch of decaying rooming houses, seedy strip bars and shady pawnshops," ... Worst of all, it is home to a hepatitis C (HCV) rate of just below 70 per cent and an HIV prevalence rate of an estimated 30 per cent -- the same as Botswana's."”
Having lived here for the last decade I would suggest that these statistics refer to only the worst areas of the DTES. The fact remains that many kids here don't have regular access to nutritional food and their backyard is an asphalt alley frequented by sex trade workers, addicts and drug dealers. The DTES is commonly referred to as Canada’s poorest postal code. It is well documented that lower income neighborhoods are associated with poorer nutrition, and higher rates of diabetes. Close to 800 children attend the local elementary schools with another 100 or so in the local day cares. When kids don’t eat well, they generally do not perform as well in school which can result in poorer grades and fewer prospects for their future.
We can’t fix everything but we can offer children healthier alternatives.
Through partnerships with with local community centres, schools and daycares, the Urban Seed Project is promoting environmental and social sustainability through a "hands-on, brains-on," project-based approach to learning. We want children to experience the wonder of growing their own food, and better yet, learn about creating sustainable food resources in an area primarily known for hardship and concrete. We want inner city kids to experience the pride and joy of seeing their seeds become healthy food-bearing plants. We want to help them develop a sense of independence, self confidence and pride in their abilities.