Michael Ableman splits his time between his family’s Foxglove Farm on British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island and SOLEfood, an urban farm on the downtown east side of Vancouver, British Columbia. Michael has been farming full-time since 1976, starting as an orchardist and evolving into a wide range of vegetables, fruits, grains, dry beans, and livestock. An early pioneer in the urban agriculture movement, Michael has long focused on the creation of good jobs and production quantities of food.
We dig into the production systems that Michael developed at SOLEfood to allow that 4.5 acre urban farm to meet the challenges of growing in an urban environment, including how they farm on top of pavement and how they mitigate the risks of uncertain land tenure. In addition to producing $350,000 in food each year, SOLEfood provides employment to individuals who struggle with poverty and addiction, and Michael shares his perspective on managing labor under challenges circumstances.
Michael’s 120-acre farm on Salt Spring Island includes 30 acres of hay and grain and six acres of fruits and vegetables, marketed on the island and via the ferry into Vancouver. Michael shares details about marketing in the two very different marketplaces, and we get a good look at his white asparagus production as well.
We also get to hear about Michael’s experience with global agriculture in the 1980s, and how that’s influenced his approach to farming in North America.
The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.