Farmers on 57th is a non-profit organization inspiring gardens, farms and growers with vibrant urban agricultural greenscapes animated by professionally staffed and volunteer-driven educational and therapeutic programs. We grow a lot of food, flowers, berries and fruit using ecological growing methods and distribute it to over 1000 people each and every growing season. We currently operate a 1 acre urban farm on Vancouver Coastal Health land in Marpole and in Bobolink Park, South Vancouver.
Farmers on 57th was inspired by the creation of a community garden in the Nation of Gitxaala where Jen Rashleigh, a documentary filmmaker, witnessed first-hand the community satisfaction and empowerment that comes from creating a new grow space. While riding past George Pearson Centre on her bike, Jen got the idea for a community integrated farm & garden in the city. Jen’s mom had worked at George Pearson Centre all through Jen’s childhood as a physiotherapist.
George Pearson Centre is a long-term residential care home for people with disabilities operated by Vancouver Coastal Health. Young and old, everyone who lives at Pearson uses a wheelchair and has varying complex care needs. Pearson Centre was built in the 1950’s as a Tuberculosis Hospital on 10 hectares (25.4 acres) of landscaped grounds and a purpose-built grow room inside to nurture plants and seedlings.
In 2008, Jen pitched her idea to the Resident’s Council of George Pearson Centre and many were all for it! Many residents had grown up with vegetable and flower gardens and were keen to get their hands in the soil, to the smell the smells and enjoy gardening their own backyard. Jen raised funds and built community partnerships, ready to build new wheelchair accessible gardens and farm the following year.
In 2009, Jen had recruited the Farmers on 57th group to help transform one acre of land, patio and boulevards at George Pearson Centre in a farm and gardens.
The name “Farmers on 57th” comes from the location of GPC, west of Cambie Street on 57th Avenue in Vancouver, BC. Farmers on 57th began as a project of the Disability Alliance of BC, and became its own Non-Profit Society in 2016.
There are three main parts to Farmers on 57th: