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How Vancouver’s city-run gardens and nurseries are fighting food insecurity this summer

VanDusen’s 3,000-pound harvest can serve between 300 and 400 meals each day
Chef Matthew Phillip from Shaughnessy Restaurant will be creating dishes with fresh ingredients harvested from the VanDusen Botanical Garden | Shaughnessy Restaurant

Two Vancouver gardens are using their harvests to feed people in Vancouver who are experiencing food insecurity this summer.

The VanDusen Botanical Garden donates 75% of its approximately 3,000-pound annual harvest to the Gathering Place Community Centre. Using the provided produce, the centre serves between 300 and 400 lunches and dinners each day to community members who have food security needs.

“We’ve been serving fresh, organic salads with the produce we’ve received so far and people love it. We’re looking forward to receiving a variety of produce throughout summer,” said Diane Brown, food services coordinator for the Gathering Place Community Centre.

Camil Dumont, a Vancouver Park Board Chair, says seeing the program help people who otherwise may not be able to afford their own fresh produce is a meaningful experience.

“Food system sustainability is of great importance,” Dumont said. “It’s rewarding to see our system and our staff working to better the Vancouver food landscape in this way.”

The remaining produce grown at VanDusen goes to Shaughnessy Restaurant, which overlooks VanDusen Garden, for its Taste of the Garden series this summer. 

Each week, Chef Matthew Phillip will be creating dishes with fresh ingredients harvested from VanDusen’s veggie garden. From appetizers to dessert, produce, botanicals and herbs will be highlighted to inspire what local, urban, sustainable cuisine is all about. A rotating menu with featured seasonal dishes will be available all summer long. The restaurant is donating the money it would spend to buy the produce to Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks.

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation’s Sunset Nursery is also growing vegetables and sending produce to Carnegie Community Centre. Last year, Sunset grew 6,840 pounds of produce, which was sent to organizations that provide residents with access to fresh food.

Vancouver’s city-run golf courses also grow produce; in the summer you may find greens from our greens on the menu at your favourite beach or pool concession stand