In this behind the scenes look at how we’re farming in the face of COVID-19 we hear from BC Seed Grower Chris Thoreau of Urban Micro, located within the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Chris touches on growing a seed crop in the city, creating energy, and increasing our capacity to care for others.
What is a significant change you've faced on your farm over the past few weeks?
In terms of seed production, I'm growing a seed crop in the city. I’ve been a member of the co-op for about a year and I wanted to make sure I produced a seed crop this year. When COVID hit, I had to decide - do I grow food on my balcony or seed? I’m pretty well connected to local farms and this gives me a lot of options for getting food, so I decided to focus on the seed crop.
I’m growing out one seed crop of tomatoes in 5-gallon buckets, which I started on my apartment balcony in Vancouver. I have since moved into a house so was able to move the whole crop with me and it fared very well in the transition.
I’m hoping that sharing my seed production efforts will offer an idea of what urban seed production looks like, and help promote more of this in the future. All of the social isolation over the past few months has been beneficial and given me more time to focus on growing, and I’m hoping that, in a lot of ways, the seed crop has benefited from that too.
What is one thing you need the community to understand right now?
Two things come to mind - patience and empathy. We’ve been seeing this in many areas of our lives; waiting in lines more and deliveries taking longer. By being patient and empathetic, and realizing others are in similar situations, it makes it easier. Bonnie Henry has been saying that is part of the strategy - being kind to others. I think these are two important things to keep in mind.
What is some good news or small joy to tell us about?
I’ve had more time to hang out with my son, which I’ve valued. I’ve also been doing a lot of physical activity like working on increasing strength and stretching more. On a personal note, I feel my fitness level and health have been improving over the past few months and it’s helping with being more grounded and increasing my mental health. As a result, I have more mental energy and capacity to give to others and this allows me to become more engaged in the organizations I am involved in.
I think we all want to come out of this ahead, and being energetic actually creates energy, this idea is really working for me right now. I’ve noticed that other people are handling this situation really gracefully, and I am feeling very encouraged by the human condition these days.