Our own mission includes supporting and sharing with the world the message of these passionate, hard working folks.
As such, we will be bringing reviews and information to you about the businesses locally and around the world who are focused on Community, Sustainability and other Positive Impact approaches.
Today, we’d like to introduce you to Urban Digs. As their name suggest, they are Urban – right in the City (Burnaby, B.C.)location at 9247 Shaughnessy st in Marpole – yet digging up some of the most fertile ground around near the Fraser River where there USED to be many active farms. Now, a majority of the land in this location has been paved over and given up to industrial offices and big chain stores. Nestled right in between all of this is a blast from the past, and a walk into heritage farming. Urban Digs is on a mission, and an important one at that – Know where your food comes from and persistently work towards re invigorating farming as a business with a plan and paid staff with living wages.
Lets take a walk through the gates of the farm in the City.
Then, you are greeted with the smell – I am not a City born person, I spent many years living on farms and among the smells and sounds and I can honestly say that the smell of manure, hay and chicken feed is far more appealing to me than pollution, cigarettes and perfume that the City offers me daily. If you struggle with it, give it some time. It’s healthier for you than all the other things you smell on a day to day basis living in the City.
You are welcome to walk the grounds, feed the chickens, talk to the goats ( who weren’t too into talking to me the day I visited since they are expecting kids very soon!) and chatter and squeal with the pigs.
The gardens are all around you and little wooden shacks have been built to house the animals, tools, products to sell and more. As you walk into the general market area you are greeted right away by owners and operators Julie and her husband Ludo.
Immediately, you are welcomed into the little community and if you are lucky Julia or Ludo will have the time to chat with you about the many fantastic things they are up to currently. The last time I visited, only Ludo was there, but he shared the wonderful news that they had teamed up with Skipper Ottos – another Community supported local family owned fishery. He explained to me how they worked and how you can become a member and get the freshest fish around and KNOW where it came from. Urban Digs is now one of the pick up points for fresh fish. He also talked a bit out the weather and which vegetables were suffering because of it. We were looking for spinach and they didn’t have any due to the excessive heat. “ Some of our lettuces are still available because we source them from another local farmer who has a greenhouse to protect them” explained Ludo.
This brought me to the realization about how disconnected we are to our food, and hence our own planet and its ecosystem and environment. We can go to a grocery store and buy foods out of season, if there has been a drought or not, floods or not, pest invasion or not. We can buy whatever we want, whenever we want it. We aren’t affected by what the weather is doing and what crops have survived because of it. Many people don’t know that many of the vegetables and fruits they buy are not even local, in fact many are not even grown on this continent.
That brings me to meat. Ethical, humane practices are becoming less the norm these days as manufacturers work to keep up with the demand placed on them to provide meat at all times, all seasons, and FAST. Hormone laden cows, steroid fed chickens are all shortcuts developed by the industry to speed up the process to keep up with demand. Again, we are so used to getting what we want, when we want it that saying ‘Sorry, we don’t have any meat right now, we have to wait for our flock to grow up before we can process them’ is not something the general population will put up with, at the same time those people are angered with the state of our meat and how it is processed. It is a disconnect – and a serious one at that.
At Urban Digs, you can actually talk to your food before you buy it. It brings a whole new perspective and respect into the cycle of life. And I say new, but it is actually old, ancient and how we started as a race. If seeing your food alive before you eat it disturbs you, it’s something you should think about. The relationship we used to have with our land, our game and our food was far more intimate and connected than it is now.
There is a call to almost ‘de-evolve’ now to get back to those roots. Simply because it was that – Simple. It is sustainable, in harmony with the ecosystem and the environment and healthy for our bodies and minds and souls.
You’ll never quite feel the way you do after hanging with a bunch of pigs by driving through the city day to day. Urban Digs is calling for a change, a movement of epic proportions. And ironically it is a movement BACK to hence we came and away from the ease, luxury and opulence of our lives today.
“What could be more important than the food you put into your body, why isn’t food your luxury item?” States Julia in her speech for the “Occupy Your Food System,” at the Langley Sustainable Agriculture Foundation’s event, “The Future of Food.” November 8, 2014.
The Communities in which we live are our life force, they are the blood that we rely on to live. This team of changemakers also realize the importance of the Community in which they are creating and leading. This is a group effort, and the more collaboration the better.
You can walk past those gates in the midst of the City and just KNOW that once you get over the pig smell, and startled by the rooster crowing you will see the simplistic genius behind this project and social movement.
We urge you to check out their website to discover all that is available to you that you usually would purchase at a big chain store. Do something for yourself to KNOW where your food is coming from, and talk to the people growing it and also do something for your children’s future and the community around you. Support the movement and join these trailblazers in bringing BACK the commonplace roots to the ground that we have all lost along the way. Lets work together to grow a healthy future.
View Julie’s speech referenced above: