The next time you dig into a baby green salad at Macan’s Pub at the Victoria Golf Club, you might notice the satisfying crunch of produce that has been grown just steps away, picked fresh that morning.
Behind deer-proof fencing is a micro-farm oasis, where the club’s chefs pick basil, mint, arugula and mustard greens growing in modest black sacks that could revolutionize urban farming.
The sacks are called Jackpots and they’re sold by West Coast Micro Greens, a small farming operation located on Spring Road in Saanich’s Interurban area. On the farm, under a sun that brings the first hint of spring, the company’s owner, Ty James, walks among neat rows of about 1,000 pots that sprawl across a gently sloping two-acre plot of tree-lined land.
The pots, made of a non-woven polypropylene fabric, can be sold on their own or delivered with pre-potted soil and seeds.
“We deliver living plants for people who want to grow food and vegetables on their patio,” James said.
The farm-to-table movement and the demand for locally-grown food shows no signs of slowing down, James said, which has more people looking for ways to grow their own produce steps from their kitchen.
“If you’re growing food feet away from your kitchen, it’s going to taste better, it’s going to be more nutrient-rich because you’re cutting it right there instead of it being on a flatbed truck for weeks from Mexico,” James said.
Within a month-and-a-half of the Jackpots being set up on a self-watering system in March, the Victoria Golf Club had produced 150 pounds of salad greens. “We originally started off with 30 [Jackpots] and realized it was going to be a success and ordered 100 right away,” said Victoria Golf Club general manager Scott Kolb.
James is co-operating with Emergency Management B.C. to distribute Jackpots to 25 First Nation communities that were devastated by the wildfires that ravaged the Interior last summer.
“Their hunting, fishing and gathering capacity has been severely limited,” James said. He is planning to travel to those communities beginning in May to help them set up a food production system and hopes that in addition to providing fresh and healthy food, it can also provide a source of revenue for communities that grow enough to sell.