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Walk along Pacific Boulevard to Carrall Street in Vancouver and you’ll see a garden growing in a concrete parking lot in the shadow of Rogers Arena. This is SOLEfood Urban Farm’s newest (and, at two acres, biggest) project – a sure sign that urban agriculture has reached Vancouver.

SOLEfood, which received a free three-year lease on the land from Concord Pacific Developments, has been growing bok choy, spinach, eggplant, kale, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and other fruits and veggies in nearly 3,000 wooden planters since last May.

Once harvested, 10% of the produce will be donated to Downtown Eastside (DTES) organizations; the rest will be sold to restaurants and farmer’s markets and divided among members of SOLEfood’s community supported agriculture (CSA) program (find out how you can receive fresh, locally grown produce throughout the year here).

But SOLEfood grows more than food. It also creates jobs for people that may have trouble finding employment. With several more urban gardens in the works, the organization, which was founded by Michael Ableman and Seann Dory, plans to employ up to 25 Vancouver Downtown Eastside residents to build planters and care for the plants by the end of 2012.

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