Visit a Farm in the City: Vancouver UBC Farm

UBC farm - center for sustainable food systems

(HealthCastle.com) Last week, we told you all about the U-Pick farms here in the Lower Mainland, mostly located in Richmond and Langley. Did you know that there’s a fully functional farm right in the heart of Vancouver? It’s true. UBC’s Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (part of the Faculty of Land and Food Systems) manages 24 hectares of farm and forest on the UBC campus. The farms offers educational opportunities for UBC students and faculty in related programs, of course, but as part of UBC’s goal to be a “living laboratory,” the farm also offers a number of programs for the general public, from education to markets to a community-supported agriculture (CSA) basket program.

What Grows at the Farm?

The perennial section of UBC farm produces a number of crops. The orchard area produces more than 70 varieties of apples alone, as well as raspberries, blueberries, and grapes. What’s more unusual is that the farm also produces hops and truffles!

There are also fields and greenhouses in which seasonal crops are grown, including all the local goodies you’d expect, like greens, garlic, peas and beans, broccoli and cauliflower, strawberries, herbs, corn, tomatoes and peppers, potatoes, squash, and more!

There are animals, too: grazing cattle, free-range poultry, and honey bees.

What to Do at the Farm

There are a number of ways for individuals and families to enjoy the UBC farm:

  • Kids and youth programs: The farm offers many programs for children and youth, including the Intergenerational Landed Learning Project, which teaches children about agriculture, health, and nutrition; farm discovery tours, which show children where food comes from and how it’s grown; and the FarmWonders camp, a summer day camp at which children work, play, and learn on the farm.
  • Explore the pathways: The farms is open to the public. During the summer, it’s open Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can walk along the roads and pathways to see what’s growing and experience the peace of the pastoral atmosphere. Just remember not to touch or take any of the plants or equipment!
  • Farm tours: The UBC farm offers free guided tours (about 30 minutes long) every Saturday at 11 a.m. during their market season.
  • Workshops: The farms offers a series of workshops related to food and agriculture. Workshops so far this year have included bread baking and cheese making.

Bringing Home Produce from the Farm

Produce sales are the main source of revenue for the farm, so there are a couple of ways you can get your hands on some of this local Vancouver bounty!

  • Markets: UBC hosts two markets weekly during the summer - a Saturday market at the farm and a Wednesday market on campus outside the IK Barber Library. The farm market features produce and eggs from the farm as well as all the fun you’d expect from a regular farmers’ market, including crafts, baking, flowers, and live music. The Wednesday market is smaller and focuses on farm produce.
  • CSA program: To participate in the CSA program, you buy a share of the farm’s produce for the summer season up front and then get to pick up a box of farm-fresh produce every week. This program is in high demand, so if you want to get involved, check it out early for next year. The program usually runs from June to October.

If you’ve never explored this farm within the city, now is a great time of year to visit, as it’s the season for great growth and activity. Go on a Saturday, and you can come home with some tasty produce to use in your kitchen, too. You can find directions to the farm here.

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