Jen Rashleigh is the founder of Farmers on 57th. She developed and manages the Garden Club and Growing Eden programs from her home in Saanich. She grew up in her mother’s garden, and realized that gardening was in her blood when she moved into a bachelor apartment with no room to grow. She began a guerilla garden between two parking lots for her own private pleasure, but soon learned the unbelievable power of gardening for community as everyone leaned over the fence to shares stories. When she worked with the Nation of Gitxaala to start their own gardens and witnessed the community satisfaction and empowerment (and giant cabbages!) she was officially hooked.
She got the idea for a community farm while biking past Pearson (her mom worked there as a physio for 20 years). With the support and vision of the Disability Alliance of BC, Farmers on 57th took form in 2009. Jen trained with Ann Kent in Horticultural Therapy and joined the Canadian and American Horticultural Therapy Associations. Jen sees food growing as a means to build community resilience, sharing and joy. Jen is mother to Owen, farm baby #3 (there are 6). When she isn’t food growing or parenting, she’s making documentary films, tap dancing, or singing.
Karen Ageson is the Market Garden Manager & Lead Vegetable CSA Farmer. She enjoys working with the living soil and the plants that sustain us, eating amazingly alive veggies and sharing those joys with the community of people who have found their way to that farm. Karen has tended the Farmers on 57th Market Garden since breaking ground in 2009.
Karen has over 25 years experience facilitating group learning in the outdoors, has worked for 15 years advocating for organic agriculture in Canada & abroad and 11 years honing ecological growing skills in the Territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ / sel̓íl̓witulh Nations, where she grew up. Karen holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies, a Masters in Agricultural Economics, is a Professional Agrologist and founding director of the Vancouver Urban Farming Society.
Jess Henry developed the florist-quality cut flower program for Farmers on 57th. She also co-teaches the Grow Your Own Food Course. Jess comes from a background of rural farm work with a focus on horses, pastured poultry & bio-dynamic farming. Jess rolled up the sod on the lawns of George Pearson Centre in 2009 alongside Jen & Karen.
A country girl at heart, Farmers on 57th has been an oasis of sanity, connection to the soil, and meaningful community engagement in the midst of a busy life in the city. Alongside flowers and vegetables she has raised 2 children in the market garden & is driven to help extend that opportunity to other people looking to connect with their food source, the soil, their community, and the birds, bugs, and bees that share the garden with us.
Sarah Wenman has been part of Farmers on 57th since the beginning as part of her work advocating for a home-like environment for people with disabilities in residential care. She co-leads Garden Club and Community Kitchen. Driving her many community building projects is the understanding that sharing locally grown food is pivotal to healthy communities and individuals.
Sarah’s passion for growing, preserving and eating locally grown food started early when her dad taught her how to wipe the soil off a freshly harvested carrot and eat it. She’s always found a place to plant seeds – she currently grows vegetables and fruits in her neighbour’s back yard.
Sarah is dedicated to enabling access to green spaces and local food for everyone, no matter a person’s income or ability level. She has observed how spending time in a thriving green space brings contentment and joy across varied populations. She knows how sharing the harvest around a big table anchors a community, and how contributing to that meal creates a sense of pride. Sarah writes about and photographs her adventures, enjoying time (and food) with her friends and family in Vancouver.