jose's farm

Jose shows the fruits of his labour at JPS Vegetable Farm.

When first arriving at JPS Vegetable Farm in Richmond, B.C., one may think it not to be a farm at all. The prominently displayed road sign reading 'Doggie Day Care / Canine Social Club' is a quick tip-off to Jose's quirky sense of humour. A series of buildings set back from the road obstruct the view of a large glass structure beyond. Formerly a hydroponic greenhouse (its heating equipment is no longer in use), it is now not only used to grow organic vegetables and seedlings,....but also serves as home to ducks and geese which are rotated from plot to plot, keeping the birds well fed and the the soil fertilized. Oh yeah....and he plays host to the 'Canine Social Club'.

Back to the organic vegetables....produce grown include kai laan, bok choi, ung choi, mezuna, spinach, arugula, lettuce, choi joi, pumpkin, squash and cabbage. Jose is experimenting with growing food in a manner that would appeal to local chefs.....'value added' products grown by crowding the seeds and harvesting early, while the vegetables are still tender and small. Locals are also welcome to drop by JPS to purchase produce, as well as fresh eggs. He is now considering opening a 'drive-thru salad bar' for the summer months; an opportunity to introduce more people to his unique way of growing food.


I first came to help out in Jose's greenhouse through Chef Ian (one of my instructors at culinary school). Volunteers were invited to come out for a few hours on Saturday mornings and lend a hand. Tasks such as trampling down and hauling away overgrown plots of mature bok choy, transplanting pumpkin seedlings, planting basil, and taking a spin with the rototiller are all activities we are able to experience with each visit. It's true that many hands make light work, and such a collaborative effort certainly is a lovely way to start the weekend. One morning I arrived to the sound of loud opera music being played through stereo speakers....audible to all with limbs, tails, wings and root systems. Knowing as little as I do about growing and nurturing a garden (successfully) I see JPS as a wonderful opportunity for me to learn, hands on (and supervised) from someone who genuinely and enthusiastically loves not only farming, but also to teach others.

Beautiful mixed greens play centre stage to my homemade pizza.

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