Eat Ultra-Local: Rooftop Gardens and Urban Honeybees

local honey from a garden

( Vancouver is the birthplace of the 100-mile diet, and Vancouverites certainly understand the benefits of eating local. From the community gardens that are in high demand all over town, to potted tomatoes on tiny downtown balconies, to the packed farmers’ markets throughout the summer, we like to get our food close to home.

From Rooftop to Plate

The Fairmont Waterfront Hotel takes this concept very seriously, with a 2,100 square foot rooftop garden on the third floor of the hotel featuring herbs, fruit, and vegetables, all of which are used in the hotel’s restaurant, Herons West Coast Kitchen. You can’t get much more local than that! Created in 1991, this edible garden was one of the city’s first green roofs – long before the much better-known green roof at the new convention centre was even a consideration.

The Vancouver Convention Centre green roof garden does share one thing in common with the Fairmont Waterfront: Both gardens are home to large populations of honeybees. The Fairmont garden set up their bee hives in 2008, and now becomes home to 300,000 to 500,000 honeybees each summer (they spend their winters at the Honeybee Centre in Cloverdale). The convention centre hives are home to about 60,000 bees. The convention centre bees produced 120 pounds of honey in 2011, while the Fairmont bees produce an incredible 600 pounds of honey each year. That’s a lot of very local honey being produced in the urban environment of downtown Vancouver.

So what happens to all that honey? The convention centre’s honey is used by the culinary team to create treats for convention attendees and put in jars for promotional use, while the Fairmont’s honey is used in its restaurant. 

If you’re not a big fan of honey, keep in mind that all those local bees venture well beyond their respective homes each day, working as very effective pollinators for the city’s other food and flower gardens. They may even be responsible for pollinating your balcony tomato plants!

Get a Closer Look - Or a Taste

Guests of the Fairmont Waterfront can book a tour of the garden to get a better look at the food production and the bees. And locals, of course, can enjoy the fruits of the bees’ labour (and the fruits of the garden) when dining at Herons.

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