I make a habit of trying to attend Green Drinks, hosted by The Local Good, as often as I can. And at the most recent Green Drinks (subject Local Food!) was delighted to reconnect with Ryan Mason of Reclaim Urban Farm.
Ryan has recently launched Reclaim Urban Farm, together with his friend and colleague Cathryn Sprague. Ryan and Cathy are both passionate about good food and good soil, and their innovative new venture has them growing greens and veggies in the heart of Edmonton. They’ll be turning empty back and front yards, garden spaces, and vacant lots in the Whyte Avenue area into beautiful and productive places to grow food. And they are using low impact gardening practices, fertilizing with compost and mostly watering with stored rain.
In exchange for land, Reclaim offers landowners a weekly box of seasonal produce. They’ll also be selling seasonal salad mixes and unique varieties of greens, radishes, beets, carrots, and squash to local restaurants, markets, and chefs. And yes, Get Cooking will be on their list!
So who are Ryan and Cathryn and what inspired this cool new venture? Ryan grew up on a small farm near Pigeon lake. Today, he farms some of the same land as his grandfather, who used to have a five acre plot in present day Bonnie Doon. And he has traveled to Mexico and Cuba, learning from the best campesinos around. Recently, he returned from Tanzania where his food security research enabled him to work alongside wakulimu (farmers). And Cathryn grew up gardening with her mom and running around her grandma’s farm every summer. She’s currently finishing up her thesis in environmental sociology, which explores how and why people become involved in their community to promote food systems that are healthy for people and the planet.
At Get Cooking we’re pretty excited that we’ll be buying a lot of our greens from Urban Reclaim Farm this year. And beyond that, we’re looking to Ryan and Cathy to manage and maintain our own greens when we move to MacEwan University in a few months time. Because we have plans afoot to install an Urban Cultivator in our new home so that we can produce our own in-house micro-greens and edible flowers. Plus MacEwan University are building a patio for our space, so we have to plant something there too! And since we’re busy enough in the kitchen, Ryan and Cathy have agreed to take these projects off our hands. And as if all this were not enough …. I’ve also asked Ryan and Cathy to turn their thoughts to teaching the odd class for me. We’re looking at workshops on growing Micro-greens and more. We’ll keep you posted as we firm up our plans.
If you have ideas on classes and workshops that you would like to see on offer please make a comment below. We’d love to hear your ideas.
Photography by Lone Acacia Photography