In the past 3 days I’ve had a tour of Local Garden from Donovan Woollard, heard a talk by Ken Lyotier founder of United We Can, and hung out with our Fresh Roots CSA gardeners at a soup swap. All of them are inspiring entrepreneurs who are doing great work in Vancouver.
The tour of Local Garden was really interesting. They’ve built a fancy, mechanized, vertical garden system to pump out fresh greens. Their focus is on reducing the carbon footprint of traditional salad mixes, which are often shipped from California. Their Vancouver greenhouse sits on the top floor of an unused parkade in downtown Vancouver (next door to Pulse Energy), uses 1/10 of the water of traditional farming, and they ship their greens to restaurants and grocery stores by bike. How cool is that?
Last night we hung out with the Fresh Roots gardeners, who hosted a soup swap that ended up being more of a dinner party with board games afterwards (awesome!). Ilana and her crew are the coolest, hippest farmers I know. We’ve been getting a CSA share from them for the past two years and are looking forward to another season this year. Fresh Roots grows a lot of their veggies on school grounds in Vancouver, partnering with the teachers and students to pass on their farming knowledge to the next generation.
Ken Lyotier started United We Can, a bottle depot in the downtown east side, in 1995 after years of dumpster diving on his own. Binners are now a fixture in Vancouver, collecting refundable bottles throughout the city. The social enterprise Ken started provides an important revenue stream for them. It was interesting hearing about Ken’s own personal struggles with addiction and how United We Can has grown from a small outfit run by a rag tag group from the DTES to one of the largest bottle depots in the province, employing hundreds of people.
Hearing from these amazing people helps puts the work I do at Pulse Energy into perspective. And speaking of which, you can recognize the awesomeness of our company by voting for Pulse Energy for a Smart Grid Superstar of 2013 award.