Farm Folk/City Folk’s Diversity Project

At FarmFolk/CityFolk (FFCF), we want to reflect the population demographics of our increasingly pluralistic society. We realize that we need to make a special effort to become accessible to people from diverse backgrounds.

Diversity, socio-cultural and biological, is healthier than homogeneity. Diversity brings a multiplicity of skills, approaches and strengths to an organization or a society. Nature obviously approves of diversity, and Canada has officially embraced the notion of multiculturalism.

We started by making links with multicultural communities in Vancouver. People from all over the world now make their home here. The aim of our Diversity Project is to work with them on issues of mutual interest.

We now have three projects under this umbrella:

If you are interested in more information on the Diversity Project, or the individual initiatives, please e-mail Veena, our Outreach and Communications Coordinator, at:

Annapurna Food Action Project

(Annapurna is the Hindu goddess of abundant food)

Women are responsible for putting food on the table in all societies. Food security is a growing problem globally, as it is in Vancouver. The problem is not just about having adequate food, but also about how people can get nutritious and culturally appropriate food.

This issue is of particular relevance to new immigrant women, and within this group, low-income women, who come here from vastly different countries and cultures. These women often have special access barriers. They need to make links with local and Canadian food networks, and gain an understanding of the very different food systems and food cultures here. They also need the tools and resources to help them adapt their considerable knowledge and skills as food providers, to Canadian conditions.

Annapurna Food Action Project works with groups of immigrant women to facilitate learning in this area. It seeks collective solutions to ensure greater food security. One of its aims is to present initiatives that local food organizations in Vancouver (and elsewhere) have developed to address food insecurity, and help the women make links with these organizations.

So far, we have worked with a group of Somali women and the community worker who works with them, Deeqa Mohammad. She works for a large immigrant services organization called MOSAIC. In a popular education workshop with the women, they identified an interest in getting a low-cost, organic food box for interested families in their community, forming a community kitchen and starting a catering service. We are now working to further develop these projects.

We have also worked with a group of South Asian women in Surrey. Our point of contact here was Dilbagh Mann, who works for a family services organization called Parvarik Sahayita (Help for Families). Another project partner is a Seniors Centre in Surrey. The South Asian women are interested in enhancing their cooking and gardening skills, possibility starting a community garden and visiting local food initiatives like the Farmers Market.

This project is funded by the United Way.

We are now in the process of approaching other women's groups and immigrant service organizations. We are also working to translate immigrant women's concerns about food security into policy language. Over the longer term, we want them to be included in food policy making.

This phase of the project is funded by the Status of Women, British Colombia/Yukon Region.

Roots and Shoots

FarmFolk/CityFolk advocates eating locally produced food that is ideally grown using organic methods. This is not easy to achieve within our market driven, transport intensive, industrial food system, controlled by a few large corporations.

It is especially hard for people, such as new immigrants to Canada, whose traditional cuisines differ greatly from Western cuisine. For example, these groups may want to eat vegetables not easily found here. Many of them do not have the income to buy organic food. Others may not be aware that this option exists.

Roots and Shoots is an initiative to facilitate growing ethnic plants using organic methods. At present, Roots and Shoots is directed towards the Latin American and Japanese communities in the Lower Mainland in Vancouver. The project was inspired by similar work done by Sharon Rempel in Edmonton.

The goals of this project are to:

  • promote local food sufficiency
  • grow organic food in urban areas
  • celebrate ethnic food and cultural identity
  • preserve and promote heritage seed and plant varieties
  • ensure the continuance and adaptation of traditional agricultural knowledge in immigrant communities
  • promote intergenerational learning and communication

Our partner for this project is a local seed company called West Coast Seeds. They have provided land, growing expertise and many varieties of seed.

Both the communities have planted a variety of plants at their community gardens in Richmond, and we are getting ready to sample some of the faster growing vegetables!

There is a lot to learn: how to select ethnic plants, where to find the seeds, how best to grow the plants, how to organize and work in effective teams.

The project will document how to grow and use select ethnic plants. It will record the process from the procurement of seeds, to planting and harvesting and finally cooking and other uses of the plants. This information will be in the public domain, accessible to individuals or groups anywhere.

Roots and Shoots is a great way to build community. People from all age groups –toddlers to grandparents – are involved in this project. We hope to bring Roots and Shoots to other ethnic communities next year.

The project is funded by the United Way and the Community Development Unit of the Ministry of Employment and Investment, British Colombia.