On the 8th of June 2018, the QES Scholars (Edith, Phanice and I) were privileged to take part in a field trip organized by Prof Garry Feir. Dr. Samuel Owuor, our professor from our home university (University Of Nairobi, Kenya) was also visiting the University of Fraser Valley at the time to enhance academic links between the Geography and Environmental Studies Department (University of Nairobi) and Geography and Environment Department (University of the Fraser Valley) and thus and joined us on our much awaited trip.
We took approximately an hour’s scenic drive towards Hope, to You Grow Foods Aquaponics Green House farm. Aquaponics refers to any system that combines aquaculture with hydroponics in a symbiotic environment[i]. The You Grow Food consider their system as a nutrient engine, by recirculating the same water continuously, the ecosystem supports itself[ii]. The fish produce ammonia rich effluent which is nutrient rich water for the plants, which the plants take it up naturally as it mimics a natural ecosystem. The plants in turn enjoy the nutrients and minerals provided to the fish. It was interesting to see how they embraced the biodiversity of bacteria and created a symbiotic relationship between the plants and fish.
The motivation behind the creation of this awesome idea by a sociologist and someone from a political development background was mainly because Hope experiences severe food insecurity and they wanted to bridge the gap by starting up something local and in a way contribute to an economic revolution. This reminded me of the Urban Gangsta Gardener, Ron Finley a fashion designer who started a movement through his guerilla gardening in South Central Los Angeles. This was a teachable moment for me, that regardless of your profession or educational background, we can all play a role in curbing food insecurity, redefining agriculture and building our communities.
We then proceeded to a 30 acre organic farm in Chilliwack, Local Harvest. The farmers use sustainable methods and natural biological controls to produce the freshest and chemical-free foods. They have also partnered with other growers in a bid to create a sustainable agri-food system that will make Chilliwack more food secure[i]. What was incredible about this farm, was that they had their own market within the farm, a true farm to table experience.
This was truly an exciting and eye opening trip, we also had the chance sneek in a couple of scenic views; the Amazing Othello tunnels and Bridal Falls.
The squad at Othello Tunnels
Squad at Bridal Falls
“Looooved it!!! It was a wonderful experience of fun-filled learning!!”
“The applications in farming towards food security were such an eye opener, Loved it!!!”
This was truly an awesome experience, just to be part and parcel and experience food systems and farming in Abbotsford. Many thanks to the QES Scholarship, Prof Cherie Ens, Prof Garry Feir and Prof Sam Owuor for making this possible and organizing such a wonderful trip.
[i] Rogosa, Eli. “How does aquaponics work?”.