Your urban abundance

New community food program to focus on central Vancouver

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Story by Jessica Swanson

Urban Abundance, a new project of Slow Food Southwest Washington, plans to reach into Vancouver’s food history in order to serve its future. Director Warren Neth was offered a grant from a community member to increase the food supply in the four neighborhoods that meet at Mill Plain and Grand boulevards, just east of downtown Vancouver: Harney Heights, Edgewood, Central Park and Hudson’s Bay. The program will center on providing the bounty from community fruit and nut trees to Vancouver’s emergency food system.

Warren, former community involvement coordinator with Columbia Land Trust, just got word that the city of Vancouver’s GIS department will provide maps of the four neighborhoods as well as the whole Fourth Plain corridor. The maps will identify the soil profile, publicly owned open spaces, water lines and community centers.

The maps will be the basis for the project’s four “areas of abundance”: planting, planning, gleaning and stories. Warren’s background is in oral history and ethnography. He grew up on an organic berry farm in Ridgefield and listened to the elders in his family talk about the abundance Vancouver once held. He is organizing neighborhood meetings in the project area that will provide space and time for residents to talk about fruit and nut trees in their neighborhoods, as well as backyard gardening and harvesting, eventually identifying people to interview for an interactive website that features “stories of abundance.” Warren is hoping to find elders in the community who remember orchards, victory gardens and gleaning groups of long ago.

Also, Warren will be tapping workshop participants and other interested volunteers for its first community planting. Vancouver’s Urban Forestry department has offered to supply nut trees to be planted in a neighborhood park. Where the interest is greatest is where the first trees will go. One of the project’s goals is to plant many fruit and nut trees in community spaces and organize groups of gleaners to harvest the trees to increase the supply of fresh food to those in need.

Private citizens with fruit and nut trees can also register with Urban Abundance to have their trees harvested, as can
harvesters and those in need of donations. Visit www.myurbanabundance.org to
get involved.

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