So the November 22 urban Farmer meeting was a smashing success! My apologies that I have not written about it sooner. It’s been a very busy time.

50 people were confirmed for the meeting and we only had 4 no shows. The energy for the evening was great and I we managed to stay fairly on schedule as well! We also had an awesome meal courtesy of Little Nest on Charles Street in Vancouver.

We started off the night with a bit of social time as everyone arrived, got their name tags and was quickly briefed on the evening. We then did a quick introduction to the project, introducing myself, Wes Regan and Brent Mansfield to the group, and explained some of the overall goals and visions.

Then we had dinner and did introductions. This was the opportunity for urban farmers and supporters to talk about their initiatives or to say how they could support others’ work. It was great learning about the diversity of urban farming systems at work in Vancouver. I don’t think any two farms were using the same model – they were all so unique.

After dinner we broke into seven discussion groups which were given the following questions to share their thoughts on:

– What do urban farmers need to be successful?
– What would an urban farming network look like?

Each group gave a great diversity of answers and it was interesting to see which topics were in every group and which topics were limited to certain groups. Each group than shared their ideas (which were written on flip chart paper) with the whole room.

After the discussion groups and sharing there was bit more time to socialize, allowing new acquaintanceships to me made on old ones to be revisited. After a little bit of clean up the night came to a fruitful end!

After the meeting, Wes and I typed up all the ideas and groped them into overall topics, and came up with five main themes:

– Land Issues
– City and Government Support
– Cooperation
– Business Development
– Systems and Infrastructure

We will do some expansion and rearranging on this list, but these would be the general topics that we will use to form our urban farmer working groups in the new year.

Besides developing the beginning of our working group topics, this meeting also realized a number of other achievements:

– Introduced urban farmers and their projects to each other and to urban farming supporters
– Introduced urban farmers supporters to urban farmers
– Catalyzed conversation between Urban farmers and supporters
– Gathered thoughts and ideas from a diverse group on how to progress urban farming in Vancouver
– Catalyzed immediate connections between projects which have already branched into new related projects
– Generated excitement over the possibilities of urban farming in Vancouver
– Supported and promoted a local restaurant (Little Nest) which supports local farmers
– And last but not least, allowed us all to see who is involved in the bigger picture of urban farming in Vancouver.

With this first meting done we now start preparing for the working groups in the new year. This is where the real work begins!