Ask LFS grad Janice Elliott what inspired her passion for local food and she will point to the time she spent as a student in our Faculty.
“LFS gave me an awareness of food security issues and a desire to contribute to the community,” Elliott said. “Before I started the Agroecology program, I honestly hadn’t given a whole lot of thought to food production within our cities.”
Now, it’s not only something she thinks about, but has put into practice as well. Last fall, the BSc Agroecology (’08) grad launched a full-time urban farm, Lawns to Legumes, in Kelowna, BC. Through the use of SPIN Farming – a method of farming for maximum efficiency on a small plot of land – Elliott provides fresh, seasonal produce grown in local backyards on converted lawn space. Currently, five residential owners allow her use of their yards. In exchange, the owners receive a hamper of fresh vegetables each week – and the freedom of no longer having to do yard work.
“The feedback has been wonderful. It’s so rewarding to be able to grow food in a space in front of a house,” she said. “It really connects me to the community.”
Elliott currently has 11 Community Support Agriculture (CSA) memberships but hopes to expand the program. CSA helped Elliott build her business, providing her with income at the start of the season to buy seed, build a walk in cooler and purchase other infrastructure. Besides her hamper-program, Elliott sells almost 30 different varieties of vegetables – grown without chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers – at Kelowna-area Farmers Markets.
She largely operates as a one-woman show, planting, harvesting and selling the vegetables herself, and recommends the path to any recent grad interested in a career in food production.
“You don’t need millions of dollars to get started,” Elliott said. “You can just use your own backyard.”