SoleFood Farm, one of North America’s largest urban agriculture projects has won both the national Brownie Award for restoring contaminated brownfield sites, and the Real Estate Foundation’s Land Award for addressing a number of social, ecological, and economic issues related to land use.
‘We are so pleased to have been honored with these two major awards within the last month” said project co-founder/director Michael Ableman. “We accept these awards on behalf of those whose voices are rarely heard, our staff from the downtown eastside. It is their courage and determination to rise above extreme personal challenges to come to work each day and grow food for the community that is at the heart of this project.”
SoleFood Farm transforms vacant urban land into street farms that grow artisan quality fruits and vegetables. The project’s mission is to empower people with limited resources by providing jobs, agricultural training, and inclusion in a supportive community of farmers and food lovers.
SoleFood addresses some of the most significant challenges of growing large amounts of food in North American cities: contaminated soils, paved land, and high land values. The project has developed innovative systems that isolate the growing medium from polluted soils, allows for food production on pavement, and can be moved on short notice-- supporting the needs of landowners and developers.
In four years, SoleFood has transformed four acres of brownfields and unused parking lots. The farms now provide a credible model of production urban agriculture, and jobs for 25 people from Vancouver's downtown eastside, many who face barriers to accessing and maintaining traditional employment.
SoleFood employees are often managing addictions, mental health challenges, homelessness, and material poverty. The Brownie awards were presented at the Canadian Brownfields conference in Niagra Falls on October 5th. SoleFood received the award fro the Best Overall Large Scale project. The Real Estate Foundation presented its Land Award to SoleFood for the best project in the non-profit sector.
For more information go to www.solefoodfarms.com