Story by Tricia Edgar
Vacay.ca Outdoors Columnist
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Are you ready to go all Old MacDonald on your next vacation? If you’re heading to an urban area, you might not think of farm tours and edible greens as the thing to see, but in Vancouver the local food movement is growing. Whether you’re looking for urban horseback-riding opportunities or tours of farms, Vancouver and its surrounding areas offer some delicious opportunities for sampling produce and enjoying the outdoors.
Farm Adventures for Kids in BC
Museums are amazing, but after a while, the urge to move around in the fresh air can cause the wiggles. If your kids have a serious case of the indoor blues, head over to Maplewood Farm, the North Shore’s own petting farm, where you can feed the bunnies, watch a milking demonstration. Arrive before the 4 pm closing and you’ll see the “running of the goats” into the barn for the night. (Adult admission is $7.50; $4.50 for children older than 18 months.)
Around Vancouver, explore one of the many riding stables and head out on a trail ride. The North Shore Equestrian Centre offers rides for adults (starting at $46.58 for 45 minutes) and pre-booked Pony Play Dates for young children ($32.97 per child), giving you a horse’s-eye view of Vancouver’s rainforest.
Out near the University of British Columbia, Southlands Farm is a unique agricultural area tucked into one of Vancouver’s most upscale neighbourhoods. Enjoy a pony ride, visit the farmer’s market, or take a walk through the nearby forest to visit with the area’s abundant wildlife. Those who are staying a little longer can even enjoy a farm camp in the city.
See, Test and Taste the Wares at Vancouver Farms
One of the best things about a visit to a farm is the food, of course. There’s nothing sweeter than a farm-fresh carrot or a handful of delicious, ripe raspberries. Vancouver’s urban farming scene is exploding, with urban farms popping up on lawns around the city. If you’d like to sample the wares, check out a few of these places.
At UBC Farm, you’ll find a seasonal farmer’s market and many wonderful projects to explore. There’s a children’s garden and an aboriginal food garden, and the farm is home to many a workshop on growing and processing your own food.
Vancouver’s Local Garden greens opened in 2012, and it is building a core of loyal patrons by offering delicious greens grown vertically in Vancouver’s inner city. You can try out these greens at many locations, including some of Vancouver’s favourite restaurants.
If you’re more into the flower-filled farm, the Olla Urban Flower Project has something for you. These gorgeous blooms make the perfect gift if you’re visiting relatives or friends. Instead of relying on imported flowers for all of its bouquets, Olla believes in the beauty of Vancouver and sources many of its flowers from nearby farms and gardens. Imported items are all fair trade and ethically sourced.
For those wannabe farmers, Vancouver’s new Homesteaders’ Emporium is the place to be. This new shop offers supplies for the urban homesteader, with classes on everything from growing mushrooms and sprouting greens to hand quilting and beekeeping. Prices vary, with some workshops costing as little as a $5 donation.
Delicious Food Tours on the West Coast
Curious about wild edibles? Urban foraging is another growing interest of many Vancouverites. If you’d like to learn more about traditional aboriginal methods of harvesting wild plants, take an Ancestral Rainforest Walk with North Vancouver’s Takaya Tours ($35 per person when part of a group). Bonus: the tour comes with the option to book a traditional salmon feast.
Vancouver’s own Granville Island Market is well-known for its diverse food choices, and the attraction also hosts interesting foodie tours. Recent tours have included a sustainable seafood walk on the nearby fish docks, a must for those interested in a deeper exploration of the coast’s seafood.
Vancouver’s suburbs might not seem to be the place to enjoy a walk through a vineyard, but look a little deeper and you’ll discover a variety of grape and other fruit wineries dotted around the city. Langley in particular has a number of wineries, including a fruit winery at Krause Berry Farms and The Fort Wine Company, with its intriguing cranberry wine.
Want to explore beyond the urban core? Use one of the Circle Farm Tours as your guide, and head out into the wilds beyond Vancouver to investigate the many farms that feed this urban area. These self-guided tours have many farm suggestions for you to choose from. Check with farms beforehand to see what’s in season.
As the season of food and farming begins, plan an urban adventure and enjoy the sights and the flavours of Vancouver. It’s a tasteful way to explore the bounty of the West Coast.